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Top cop in court over Qld jab challenge

Queensland’s police commissioner and lawyers have had an at-times heated exchange in a Brisbane court challenge against vaccine mandates.

The two-and-fro with Commissioner Katarina Carroll went for more than 90 minutes on Wednesday afternoon and she may have to return on Friday.

Questions centred on how COVID-19 affected QPS’s ability to function prior to the mandate, and Ms Carroll’s statement of reasons for the direction.

The commissioner defended the service’s vaccine exemption process amid suggestions it favoured genuine religious reasons over other consciousness beliefs.

She admitted there were people within the service who held the view it was not the role of government to require vaccinations, but rejected the idea there was a deliberate decision to exclude them from the exemption process.

“They still have an avenue in the exemption process due to other exceptional circumstances,” Ms Carroll told the court.

No applications were granted an exemption on that basis, the court was told.

Queensland police and ambulance workers are challenging COVID-19 vaccine mandates in the Brisbane Supreme Court.

The action was brought by paramedics, who were required to have two vaccinations in December, and police officers who were directed to have both jabs in January.

The groups are challenging their employers’ direction requiring them to be double vaccinated to continue working, while other actions before the court challenge the chief health officer.

Barrister Dominic Villa, acting for police officers, said the requirement to be vaccinated under the threat of disciplinary action or termination of employment limited human rights.

“The ultimate question comes whether or not those limits on human rights were and continue to be reasonable and demonstratively justifiable,” he told the court on Monday.

Barrister Christopher Ward, for ambulance workers, said those singled out by the direction cannot engage in their profession, but do what everyone does every day, coming into contact with others who may have the virus or being in shared places.

The trial that began on Monday before Justice Glenn Martin has been set down for five days.

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