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Queensland’s soft-on-crime first female police commissioner imposed unlawful Covid vaccine mandate, court rules

Katarina Carroll Queensland Police Commissioner Yyleen White

Outgoing Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll’s Covid vaccine mandate was unlawful, a court has ruled just a week after she announced her resignation while under pressure over the state’s youth crime crisis.

Ms Carroll, who will step down from her $650,000/year job on Friday, issued a direction in 2021 ordering all Queensland Police Service (QPS) employees be vaccinated against Covid-19.

After an initial challenge was rejected in the Queensland Industrial Relations Court that year Ms Carroll then issued a direction that all employees take a Covid vaccine by January 23, 2022, or be dismissed or suspended with pay.

Brisbane Supreme Court Justice Glenn Martin found on Tuesday that Ms Carroll had not given “proper consideration to the human rights that might have been affected by her decisions” and noted that she seemed unprepared to give evidence and “unfamiliar with some of the documents which were at the heart of the case” in a scathing assessment of her decision-making.

“The Commissioner’s evidence about whether she gave ‘proper consideration to a relevant human right in making [the] decision’ to issue Direction No 14 was vague and inconclusive,” Justice Martin wrote in his 115-page decision.

“Her evidence about the decision-making processes which led to Direction No 14 was consistent – she was reluctant to commit to having read particular documents, she frequently could not recall how she received information or what the information was, and she frequently evaded these issues by referring in a vague way to briefings, discussions, summaries and the like.”

Justice Martin ordered Ms Carroll be restrained from enforcing the QPS directions or taking disciplinary action against any of the applicants.

The ruling came just seven days after Ms Carroll announced her retirement from the top job.

Her decision followed widespread dissatisfaction with her handling of youth crime, and rising public anger in the wake of the alleged stabbing murder of grandmother Vyleen White by a Sudanese refugee teenager west of Brisbane on February 4.

She defended her response to the youth crime, while also admitting: “It’s dangerous, it’s escalating and it certainly is one of the biggest focuses of the QPS”.

Ms Carroll was seen as “kind and compassionate” by her peers, but caused internal friction by prioritising the promotion of women and diversity, and her focus on domestic violence resulted in 40% of police time being devoted to dealing with that issue at the expense of other crimes, The Australian reported.

“If I can touch on what I think would be a regret … is the bureaucracy and administrative burden of attending domestic and family violence incidents. It is extraordinary … two to six hours to carry out that work,” she said during her resignation announcement.

Two days after Ms Carroll’s resignation, Queensland’s Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath, who was Health Minister during the Covid pandemic, announced she would quit politics before the upcoming state election.

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