Unvaccinated Lawyers Locked Out Of Courts, Unable to Fight Mandates in Western Australia

By Daniel Khmelev
Daniel Khmelev
Daniel Khmelev
Daniel Khmelev is an Australian reporter based in Perth covering energy, tech, and politics.
February 1, 2022Updated: February 4, 2022

The Western Australia (WA) government has banned unvaccinated lawyers and all other staff from attending courtrooms, prompting anger from some law experts who believe the directions fundamentally inhibit justice.

Under the order of the WA chief health officer, from Feb. 5, all court and tribunal staff—including lawyers and jurors—will need to have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Feb. 5 is the same day the state had planned to reopen its borders before it backflipped on its decision due to the inefficacy of double-dose vaccination against the Omicron variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. The state has currently recorded 155 active cases.

By Mar. 5, this will change to allow only the fully vaccinated, which includes requiring those eligible to receive a third booster dose.

Augusto Zimmermann, former law reform commissioner and head of law at Sheridan Institute of Higher Education, expressed concern over the decision and its implication towards clients who use the services of unvaccinated lawyers.

Epoch Times Photo
Augusto Zimmermann is professor and head of law at Sheridan Institute of Higher Education in Perth, Australia.

“I’m starting to feel really disheartened, and even distressed, by this whole development because one of the hallmarks of a tyrannical regime is to deny people access to justice,” Zimmermann told The Epoch Times.

“The vaccine is being used as an instrument to preclude members of the legal profession to represent the clients and therefore, what the government is doing is to create difficulties for people to have access to justice, ultimately speaking.”

It comes as Senior Constable Ben Falconer and other members of WA Police battle the state’s vaccination mandates in a landmark case that has so far seen all 25 officers keep their jobs until the final hearing in March.

The WA government has required vaccination, including booster doses, for 75 percent of the state’s workforce—equivalent to over a million workers.

The group, represented by Hotchkin Hanley lawyers, have become one of the only in Australia to have successfully fought against vaccination requirements, with the momentum carrying over to other industries—including health, education, construction, and mining—which are currently in the process of launching their own legal challenges.

But the exclusion of unvaccinated Australians from the jury could work against court cases that challenge the vaccination mandates.

Epoch Times Photo
Protestors rally against vaccination mandates during the World Wide Rally for Freedom event in Perth, Australia, on Nov. 20, 2021. (The Epoch Times)

Zimmermann fears that some parties may now also be restricted in their access to basic legal services, particularly those who are fighting against the government’s vaccination mandates.

“It’s clearly undermining the legal profession in the process because there are some good lawyers who are not entirely compliant with the system, and they are actually more concerned about the preservation of individual rights,” Zimmermann said.

“You already have clients with their own legal counsel, and these lawyers might now not be able to properly represent these clients.”

“So you’re going to have lawyers now that are going to find it very difficult to be able to continue to exercise their role as legal practitioners.”

The Epoch Times reached out to the WA Department of Health for comment but did not receive a reply in time for publication.

WA Premier Mark McGowan has previously been criticised for insulting unvaccinated West Australians, including by telling anti-vaccine mandate protesters to “grow a brain” and calling patrons refusing to demonstrate proof of vaccination at venues “dropkicks”—Australian slang for a stupid or worthless person.

The WA government has banned unvaccinated citizens from attending a range of venues from Jan. 31, including restaurants, fitness centres, and events with more than 500 people.