West Australian council forced to reconsider vaccine mandates

West Australian council forced to reconsider vaccine mandates

A 14th West Australian council was forced by a group of ratepayers to consider opposing state government COVID 19 vaccine mandates, prompting frustration about the increasing number of local governments having to tackle the issue.

The Shire of York held a special electors' meeting this week at the behest of 160 locals who signed a petition asking the meeting to go ahead.

Among the demands was a call for council to make the local community pro-choice in relation to COVID- 19 vaccines and for council to reject state mandates.

If 100 voters, or 5 per cent of the population, request a special election, councils are required to hold a special election.

They have been held throughout the state in recent months, with Fremantle and Busselton having held meetings with almost identical agendas.

The majority of local residents supported mandates, but all motions raised at Tuesday's meeting were passed by electors.

That's their choice if people don't want to be vaccinated. But we have rules if we all decided we weren't going to wear a seatbelt or if we were going to drive on the wrong side of the road, what would happen? She said rules are there for a reason.

In the state's south, the Shire of Bridgetown-Greenbushes has rejected calls from ratepayers to lobby the government to end COVID- 19 vaccine mandates.

It held a special electors' meeting about the issue last month at the request of almost 300 people, but only 20 people attended a second meeting on Wednesday night for council to debate those calls.

Local government had no say in vaccine mandates, according to councillor Amanda Rose.

She said that she supports the community as a whole - the community as a whole is not represented here tonight.

Councillor Tracy Lansdell empathised with the small group gathered, saying the shire should acknowledge a growing sentiment of concern and disharmony the mandates had created. Those who attended had taped placards on empty chairs in the gallery, representing those who had supposedly suffered adverse reactions from the vaccine.

The community members had an opportunity to address council, with one saying that the general feeling in our community is that the unvaxxed are classed as a minority. Others used the opportunity to spread untruths and misinformation about the efficacy and safety of the vaccine.

There is a tragedy on both sides of the argument all over the world and we're not going to be able to fix that tragedy here tonight, deputy president Sean Mahoney said.

Three votes to five was won for the vote to reject the electors' meeting motions.

The councillors voted to not endorse advocacy positions and invited anyone to direct concerns to the state government.

The state's peak representative for local government said it fully expected more meetings to be called.

WA Local Government Association president Karen Chappel said it was essentially a fruitless exercise, as councils had no power to act on those matters.

She said that local governments can't make decisions that are in violation of existing laws.

Members of the community who are concerned with state government directions or policy need to raise these issues with their local members of parliament.