Last week, lawyers for Senior Constable Ben Falconer applied for a judicial review of the mandatory vaccination direction in the WA Supreme Court. It came ahead of the deadline, arguing that mandatory vaccination is ‘disproportionate or not rationally connected to its stated aim’.
Despite assurances given by the WA Police Union that the threat of immediate loss of pay had been dropped for officers still not vaccinated by the December 1 deadline, the Commissioner for Police/Vaccine Commander Chris Dawson (may as well be Commandant Harris from Police Academy) has been standing down or suspending all unvaccinated police officers and staff. He has also commenced investigations into alleged breaches of discipline for not being vaccinated.
Matters will soon come to a head, and, as often is the case in legal disputes, much hinges on the drafting of the direction and whether the action taken by Dawson goes beyond what is stipulated in the direction.
Under Section 4 of the WA Police Force Worker (Restrictions On Access) Directions, police officers and staff have not been directed to be vaccinated. Rather, the directions only prohibit police officers and staff from attending a WA Police facility without being vaccinated.
The legal grounds for Senior Constable Falconer’s urgent application are that under the Public Health Act 2016 (WA) it was solely a matter for the Chief Health Officer, and not the Commissioner of Police, to decide whether to mandate that all police officers and staff must be vaccinated. By issuing the employer direction to that effect, the Commissioner of Police, acting without any medical advice, usurped the Chief Health Officer’s authority, rendering the disciplinary action being taken against unvaccinated police officers and staff unlawful.