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30 November, 2021

Anti-mandate crowd pleads for support from council

HUNDREDS gathered outside the Tablelands Regional Council offices last week to demand council support them and object to the State Government’s mandate which will ban unvaccinated people from entering businesses such as cafes, cinemas, hotels and restaurants.

By Robyn Holmes

Mayor Rod Marti faces the 500 strong crowd outside the council building on Thursday.

Mayor Rod Marti addressed the crowd who were clearly passionate in their view that the mandate discriminates against people who refuse to have the jab and puts an unfair burden upon businesses to police it when it becomes effective this month. 

Council allowed two people to speak at its meeting before voting to support the community in its right to voice their concerns to the State Government about the mandate, and to forward to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk the hundreds of signed pro-forma letters by residents opposing the mandate as well as documentation from the two deputations. 

In her presentation to council, The Gilles owner Alli Fielding spoke passionately about her fear that many small businesses would suffer once the mandate becomes effective - through either a loss of staff who have not been vaccinated or a loss of customers who have not had the jab and therefore can no longer be allowed into their business. 

“Should the mandate proceed without amendment, hospitality businesses will be mandated to actively discriminate and will be required to turn away valuable customers. The result of this action is that jobs of the 18 locals I employ will be put in serious jeopardy,” she told the council. 

Ms Fielding particularly drew attention to the non-sensical rules, saying she had confirmed with Queensland Health that while food courts and fast food outlets would be able to serve unvaccinated people, local cafes would be forced to refuse service. 

“Effectively, this means one can purchase your morning coffee from McDonalds but not from Gallery 5, Whistlestop or the many other excellent cafes in our area – it makes no sense,” she said. 

Finding staff to replace those who cannot work due to the mandate was also a major concern and would lead to the closure of some businesses. 

“Finding staff is a major challenge, yet now we are required to terminate valuable staff at the busiest time of the year, with little opportunity to fi nd replacements. Without any exaggeration, this will cause some businesses to close due to no staff ,” she said. 

Ms Fielding implored the council to plead with the State Government for a six-week relaxation of the mandate for those residents who have their received their first dose and are booked in for their second, or for those who have not been able to access their doctor for advice prior to having the vaccination. 

“It is also valid to highlight that for those wishing to consult their doctor for reassurance prior to vaccination, there is a delay in obtaining an appointment, again making the double vaccination date unachievable,” she said. 

In a passionate speech, Glen Allyn resident Mark Lachlan implored the council to “protect that which uniquely ours” and stand up for their communities. 

Mr Lachlan currently has a petition against the bans circulating which has attracted more than 72,300 signatures to date. 

Describing the situation as “preposterous”, he said the bans were an assault on the freedom of citizens, an assault on our way of life and would cause severe mental anguish to many people. 

“This will create a caste system in our society and I never thought I’d say that,” he told the meeting. 

“It will lead to the closure of business and the loss of staff , it will mean extra cost to be borne by businesses (to man entrances) and it means they have turn away customers – those people who supported them in the hard times now have to be turned away.” 

After the meeting items had been dealt with, Mayor Marti, CEO Gary Rinehart and some councillors returned to what was left of the crowd to advise their decision and to receive more signed pro-forma letters. 

They advised they would continue to accept any additional letters until close of business on 1 December, then forward all letters to the Premier. 

Two anti-mandate gatherings also were held outside Mareeba Shire Council chambers last week, with around 150 people at each. This Sunday, a public meeting will be held at the Mareeba Turf Club at 12 noon for “Citizens of Pro Choice” to discuss the bans.

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