Two weeks ago the Western Australian Police Commissioner, Chris Dawson, issued an edict. As of Monday, 9 August, any officer who has not had the coronavirus vaccine is forced to wear a mask at work. The Commissioner announced this publicly, meaning the entire population of WA can identify which officers have not had the jab. Reports are emerging that these loyal officers are being heavily pressured by their commanders and supervisors to have the jab and are being openly mocked as ‘anti-vaxxers’.
Anyone with any sense of propriety and humanity would be able to deduce that this policy is discriminatory and fosters victimisation. It creates a sense of shame for these serving officers who have legitimate concerns and raises questions about the cognitive dissonance (or is it something else?) between leading public servants who hide behind “The Science”, as opposed to statements such as those of Professor Andrew Pollard, who led the Oxford vaccine team.
(Speaking to an all-party parliamentary committee on coronavirus, Pollard declared that the Delta variant could still infect people who had been vaccinated, which made herd immunity impossible to reach, even with Britain’s high uptake. He said, “We don’t have anything that will stop transmission, so I think we are in a situation where herd immunity is not a possibility and I suspect the virus will throw up a new variant that is even better at infecting vaccinated individuals”. What is more, there are numerous RCT studies over the years that have looked at the effectiveness of masks in controlling viruses [including the Danmask study], concluding that the effect of wearing a mask on transmission is negligible.)
But back to the WA Police. Questioned by Gareth Parker on 6PR radio recently, the head of the WA Police Union, Mick Kelly, advised he had legal advice that the Commissioner could not actually mandate the jab.
When questioned about officers’ objections, Kelly spoke of concerns regarding possible side-effects, officers wishing to find out more from their own doctors (informed consent, in other words, since the vaccine has only provisional approval from the TGA and several groups were not involved in trials, including immunocompromised individuals) and religious objections.
Since this mandate came into force, some officers have disclosed, with great courage, that they feel ashamed to be part of an organisation that is supposed to uphold the rule of law and stop bullying and discrimination, yet is actively promoting these. Several do not agree with the enforcement that is demanded of them in relation to coronavirus measures. Here is one example:
The directions we are ordered to comply with are highly politicised and often lack scientific foundation. Not only do I disagree with the draconian measures we are expected to enforce on the public, but now, as a result of making a personal choice not to undergo a medical procedure, I and my fellow colleagues are being discriminated against having to wear face masks while on duty.
What frustrates me is that I am rightly required to consider the evidence before preferring a criminal charge, yet I am required to ignore the evidence when following these draconian policies.
Other officers have alluded to the studies on the lack of effectiveness of masks in preventing infection, and others still note the lack of financial recourse or otherwise if adverse health effects are suffered following the jab.
Considering that Covid vaccines do not prevent transmission, as evidenced by data coming in from around the world, there is no basis from which to mount a herd immunity argument, as Pollard noted. They are for personal protection only. However, it appears this fact is being suppressed at all cost.
What is more, as alluded to by James Allan recently in his usual brilliant way in relation to the dishonesty of the ruling class, from an ethics point of view, if anyone tried to advance this sort of utilitarian claim – that person X must be massively incentivized to take a treatment in order to help person Y not X – it would be rejected on the spot. And that doesn’t even consider the discriminatory and humiliating nature of this mask mandate.
So why then are loyal police officers being bullied in this way by their Commissioner? Note how Marshall Mark McGowan has been insisting, like a petulant child, he wants the power to lockdown even once the 80% vaccination target has been reached in pursuit of ‘crushing the virus’ which, as any epidemiologist worth his or her salt will tell you, is impossible.
Retired ABC journalist Kerry O’Brien has stated his alarm about the increasing “militarisation” of police forces. He told the Nine newspapers on the weekend:
If political leaders take comfort now in sharing platforms with police and military commanders to enhance their own authority, and feel there is some political benefit in doing so, they’ll be tempted to do it again in the future, and it becomes a part of the normal fabric of politics, which it shouldn’t.
The question, therefore, has to be asked if the coercive treatment of loyal, frontline police, by their own hierarchy is part of a bigger push to visit similar tactics on the WA public generally.
Dr Rocco Loiacono is a senior lecturer at Curtin Law School.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Curtin University.
Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.