A central Queensland mayor is facing allegations of COVID-19 vaccine misconduct for raising concerns about the local rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Barcaldine Regional Council Mayor Sean Dillon said he had “no confidence” in the Central West Hospital and Health Service rolling out the jab and he hoped they didn’t “stuff it up” during a council meeting on February 17.
The state’s Independent Assessor is investigating whether the comments could be ” detrimental to public confidence” in the local vaccine drive.
The Local Government Association of Queensland CEO Greg Hallam says Mr Dillon had a right to speak publicly about the rollout in his region.
“For that matter, the right to political speech is implied in the Australian Constitution,” he said in a statement.
“The vaccine rollout is discussed on a daily basis by politicians at all levels and on all sides of government. It would literally be mentioned hundreds of times a day in the Queensland media.”
Mr Hallam said the Barcaldine mayor’s comments were articulate and measured and he was simply seeking to represent his community.
The LGAQ has threatened to take the matter to the High Court if the Independent Assessor finds against Mr Dillon.
Mr Hallam said the LGAQ supported the role of the Office of the Independent Assessor, but it was “way wide of the mark on this issue”.
“It doesn’t pass the pub test nor accord with the Australian Constitution,” he said.
“The OIA needs to recognise their error, withdraw their action and get back to their important work which does not include pontification on political speech.”
Liberal National Party integrity spokeswoman Fiona Simpson said the reports about Mr Dillon and vaccine misconduct were “deeply concerning” as elected officials should be free to express their views on policies without fear of prosecution.
She said the mayor was merely pointing out some possible logistical difficulties about the vaccine rollout in the Barcaldine region.
“I fear there is a genuine risk being posed to our democracy,” Ms Simpson said in a statement.
“I fear the Office of the Independent Assessor is being used to strong-arm elected officials who hold contrary views to the current Queensland government. I fear the actions of the OIA are authoritarian which doesn’t represent who we are as a society,” Ms Simpson said.
Comment has been sought from the Queensland government.
Original story from AAP Newsroom. Note: Content has been edited for style and length.
Nina Alvarez is a Content Producer for Healthcare Channel. Her interests include writing, particularly about the healthcare sector and the many ways it can improve to further benefit people from all walks of life.