A group of Queensland Police Service (QPS) employees funded by a large-scale crowdfunding effort have launched employment law court action against Commissioner Katarina Carroll’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
- Sixty applicants are challenging whether the COVID vaccine mandate is lawful
- The officers’ lawyer alleges that a marked police car was parked outside his Brisbane office
- The QPS argues that vaccinated officers would encourage community confidence during interactions with police
The legal action lodged yesterday with the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) comes after a direction was issued for all QPS staff to receive one jab by October 4 or face suspension and possible dismissal.
The 60 applicants are asking the QIRC to consider whether it is lawful under their employment agreements to compel staff to receive a COVID-19 vaccine “against his or her will” and whether the QPS is legally allowed to take “disciplinary action” against those who fail to comply with the direction.
In communication to the QPS lodged as part of the dispute filed in the QIRC, the lawyer acting for the group, Thomas Allan, has sensationally claimed he and his clients have been “intimidated” by police as a result of the industrial disagreement.
Mr Allan claims in court documents that the morning after he sent a letter to the QPS alerting them to the industrial dispute, a marked police car parked outside his Dutton Park law office and residential premises for up to two minutes.
“This is an unlikely coincidence,” he alleged in a letter annexed to the QIRC application.
“I infer the presence of a marked police car outside my law practice at Dutton Park … was as a result of an order made by you [Commissioner Carroll] in an attempt to intimidate me as the lawyer representing the group of police officers … who have a disagreement with you about the conditions of their employment.
“Namely as to whether you are authorised to compel them, against their will, to receive an experimental, provisionally approved COVID-19 vaccine,.”
The court documents show the letter was sent on October 6 to Commissioner Carroll and the QPS Legal Unit.
It also requests “written confirmation” that no “orders” were made for “special patrols” outside Mr Allan’s office, that no investigations into his financial affairs or electronic surveillance have also been “ordered”.
Letters from the QPS attached to the court action claim the group do not have any grounds for their dispute, saying the direction was made under the Police Service Administration Act, not an employment agreement.
QPS said because the matter was before QIRC “we are unable to comment”.
Another group of employees are seeking a court order in the Supreme Court to invalidate the direction.
‘Our overwhelming obligation is to ensure we have safe workplaces’
Commissioner Carroll has directed both civilian staff and police to have their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by January 24 next year.
She has said previously those who do not get their first jab by the deadline will be asked to show cause why they should not be suspended without pay.
The crowd-funding page set up by the group last month to raise money for any legal challenges against compulsory vaccination has raised more than $118,000.
According to court documents, applicants to the QIRC dispute are QPS staff Kylie Brassell-Delow and nine others.
Documents show there are 50 sworn police officers including John Tomson, who are applicants to a second dispute lodged in the QIRC yesterday.
The QPS has previously said that it sought independent legal advice on the vaccination mandate.
“The QPS is mandating vaccinations for the entire workforce in all QPS workplaces within the next five months to protect employees, their families and the community from COVID-19,” a spokesperson said.
“The dynamic nature of policing means frontline officers interact with large volumes of people and move around to all corners of the state.
“It is important the Queensland community have confidence and feel safe when interacting with their police.”
The spokesperson had said staff were encouraged to speak with their managers to work out “individual issues and circumstances”.
“While we respect individual choice and we will continue to engage closely with our members as we implement the directive, our overwhelming obligation is to ensure we have safe workplaces and a safe community,” the spokesperson said.
The matter is expected to be scheduled at the QIRC today.