Queensland’s police commissioner has taken to the witness box in Brisbane Supreme Court and been grilled by a lawyer representing staff fighting the police service’s vaccine mandate.
Barrister Dominic Villa raised his voice at Commissioner Katarina Carroll at one stage, and he made several snarky remarks to the state’s top cop during the almost two hours of questioning on Wednesday afternoon.
The week-long trial for three vaccine mandate challenges began on Monday, with two cases brought by Queensland Police Service workers and the other by Queensland Ambulance Service staff.
In total, 61 QPS and 12 QAS workers are involved. Other are also ongoing in Queensland courts.
Lawyers representing the objecting police employees and ambulance staff .
Villa, representing one group of police employees, questioned Carroll about the evidence she relied on in deciding to impose the vaccine mandate – referred to as Direction 12 – on her 17,500 staff.
Villa: I am asking you about the contents of that document and the extent to which that was in any way relevant to the decision-making process you undertook in issuing Direction 12?
Carroll: Can I please go back to the conversation I just stated with [Deputy Commissioner] Doug Smith?
Villa: Can you please address my question . . .
Carroll: But there have been . . .
Villa [raised voice]: Commissioner, please!
Villa: How long have you been a police officer? Surely, this is not the first time you have given evidence to the court?
Villa also questioned Carroll’s claim that her staff were at a higher risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19, given their regular interaction with the public.
Villa: You had no evidence before you to support the proposition that members of the Queensland Police Service were in a significantly increased risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19, did you?
Carroll: We had very good evidence as to what occurred across the world in other policing organisations.
Villa: But you don’t refer to any of that evidence in your statement of reasons?
Carroll: But it is a consideration of what I have looked at – the United States national centre for diseases, the information that Doug Smith gave me, so it was a consideration.
Villa: All right. Well, your homework overnight, commissioner, will be to find where you say in the material you relied upon . . . any evidence that the QPS was at a significantly higher risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19. Do you understand the task?
Villa also made the point that none of his clients who applied for an exemption from the QPS with the reason of holding a conscientious objection to mandatory vaccination had been approved.
Villa: Your suggestion that the ‘exceptional circumstances’ exemption would provide an avenue for conscientious beliefs to be taken into consideration was disingenuous, correct?
Carroll: No, it was not disingenuous.
At one point, Villa also asked Carroll to answer his question and not make speeches.
Carroll is expected to be recalled to the witness box either at the end of this week or next week.