NOTE: Just before this piece was due to go to print, a glimmer of hope emerged after a directions hearing in the Supreme Court of Western Australia. See below for more details.
Since my piece last week on Senior Constable Ben Falconer’s application to halt mandatory vaccine directions for WA Police, the amount raised on the GoFundMe page to support the legal challenge has gone from $24,000 to over $77,000 (at the time of writing). That is an incredible response which has given much-needed encouragement to some courageous police officers.
By way of update, as outlined on the GoFundMe page, it seems Police Commissioner/Vaccine Commander Chris Dawson (aka Captain Harris from Police Academy) is engaging in a deliberate strategy of swiftly sacking employees that have not had the Covid-19 injection, which means they won’t have any money to pursue legal recourse, thus making fundraising to support the legal challenge ever-more crucial.
During negotiations between solicitors for Senior Constable Falconer and the WA State Solicitor’s Office, the Commissioner of Police refused not to dismiss any unvaccinated WA Police Force employee until the validity and lawfulness of the Chief Health Officer’s Direction and Employer Direction issued by the Commissioner have been determined by the Supreme Court of Western Australia.
This disciplinary action, and possible dismissal based on what could be proven to be an unlawful action, is unprecedented both in its application and never before seen ferocious and swift application of the disciplinary provisions possessed by the Commissioner under section 23 of the WA Police Act. Accordingly, as noted in my piece last week, Senior Constable Falconer is pursuing an application for an injunction in the Supreme Court to stop the Commissioner from terminating the employment of any unvaccinated Police Force employee prior to the Supreme Court delivering its judgment.
If the injunction fails, it is likely that unvaccinated police officers and staff will have their employment terminated in the days before Christmas. One of the consequences of this occurring will be that police officers housed in Government Regional Officer Housing dwellings may be evicted over the Christmas period with little or no time to secure new housing. One police officer currently living in such a dwelling is due to be a new father a few weeks after Christmas. Commissioner Dawson has even personally recommended that the Minister for Police approve a probationary officer’s removal from the WA Police Force pursuant to directions surrounding vaccination.
Talk about getting his priorities wrong…
Obviously the escalating crime rates in Northbridge – once a thriving restaurant and social precinct on the doorstep of the Perth CBD which is now rife with anti-social behaviour and a hangout for the homeless such that many European migrant-era family-run restaurants have had to close their doors – is not a serious enough policing issue for Commissioner Dawson.
In fact, official WA Police statistics show that crimes against the person, including family violence, are up 14 per cent and 19.4 per cent respectively as against the five-year average. And that will only get worse if Dawson sacks more police officers, who is demonstrating more and more, with his history of bullying tactics, to have all the moral fibre of a junkyard dog. No doubt he is being egged on by a power-drunk, crazed premier who bans people from coming home even on compassionate grounds.
As I and many others have argued in these pages, punishing the unvaccinated threatens everyone’s liberty. If you have not yet donated to support Ben Falconer’s action and wish to do so, once again here is the link to the GoFundMe page.
CASE UPDATE: At a directions hearing on December 16, the Commissioner of Police backed down from his previous position, and agreed to give an undertaking not to dismiss any unvaccinated officer, including the probationary constable, before December 24, 2021, with the injunction application to be heard at 9.00 am next Thursday, December 23. This is a very positive development, but the battle is far from over.
In Mandy Rice-Davies style, Commissioner Dawson has said that the injunction application will be vigorously defended next Thursday. Further, counsel for the Commissioner of Police and the Chief Health Officer announced to the Court for the first time that they will be lodging their own application to strike out both actions as having no legal substance. This application will also be heard next Thursday. As noted on the GoFundMe page, the hearing will be a watershed moment in the legal battle. If Senior Constable Falconer’s arguments are accepted by Justice Allanson, the injunction is granted, and the strike out applications are dismissed, then the jobs of all unvaccinated police officers and staff will be preserved until the final hearing in April 2022.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Curtin University.
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