Shire faces shutdown when mandate kicks in December 17

Covid-19

Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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Over 350 people turned up to the 'business freedom' meeting in Port Douglas last night. Image: Sam Beau Patrick (Facebook)
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Douglas Shire faces partial shutdown when the Queensland Government’s Public Health orders are expected to take effect on December 17.


As the clock ticks down towards the deadline when those who are not fully vaccinated will not be permitted into pubs, cafes, restaurants, among other venues, Douglas Shire businesses are faced with the task of policing this government legislation.

“This is going to make for an interesting and perhaps chaotic time for business. If you run a bar, for example, and you have to turn people away, it could become ugly. There is no perfect solution to this,” said a business owner who requested anonymity.

And in a show of support, more than 350 residents attended a meeting last night at the Community Centre where a group calling itself Douglas Shire Business Freedom focused on non-discrimination and the freedom to choose whatever your view.

Former Douglas Shire Councillor Rod Davis (2000-2008), a keynote speaker and one of five who addressed the the meeting, said the Shire was experiencing a phenomenon never seen before.

“We simply cannot sit back and witness our people being sacked because of the Queensland Government’s punishment policy and we want Douglas Shire Council to not accept this mandate.

‘‘We expect multiple businesses to be closed on December 18 and staff have already indicated they will not police the vaccination mandate and request proof from customers. They simply will not be coming to work,‘‘ said Davis.

Policing

An observer at the meeting who requested anonymity, and is a business owner, concurred with this view saying staff did not want to be policemen.

‘‘I have a list of more than 30 employees who refuse to police this and will not be working, which will force shutdowns and chaos," the observer said.

Davis, meanwhile, fears a backlash if Council supports the government’s stance.

‘‘This issue is going to get hot and I am not sure how much hotter it can get. We all like each other and this argument is with government,‘‘ he said.

Davis said he was surprised at the excellent turnout at the meeting and shows we are not alone and as a tight community we stand by each other.

Davis is also part of a deputation to Council’s Open Session on Tuesday, but is uncertain how many people it will attract.

The deputation is represented by the ‘Keep PD FREE Community Group’, which asks the following: “The community of Port Douglas and surrounds seeks to know if Douglas Shire Council opposes discrimination that harms both employers and employees, and which segregates and divides our community over medical choice. There is considerable personal and economic stress, which is causing division and concern in the community and the delegation seeks Council’s leadership on this issue, by way of delegation.”

Fraser Coast

Some Councils across Queensland plan to address the issue with the government.

At its meeting on Wednesday 24 November 2021, Fraser Coast Regional Councillors considered and passed a motion as follows:

“That the Council write to the Queensland State Government to communicate the following:

(a) That we are grateful for their actions to date to keep Queenslanders safe during the current COVID-19 pandemic;

(b) That we are opposed to the proposed COVID-19 vaccine mandate and the detrimental impact it will have on local businesses, members of the public, employees and people wanting to access council facilities.

Fraser Coast Regional Council has not made any decision to restrict access to Council-owned facilities based on a person’s vaccination status.

COVID-19 restrictions are put in place by the Queensland Government through Public Health Directions issued by the Chief Health Officer.

Like all businesses and organisations, Council would need to abide by any lawfully made Public Health Direction.“


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