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7 December, 2021

Looming COVID mandate draws more pushback

IN a momentous decision, Mareeba Shire Council has revealed its position on the looming vaccine mandate, officially asking the premier to “reconsider” her decision.

By Rhys Thomas

Nearly 400 people gathered at the Mareeba Turf Club on Sunday for a public meeting discussing the proposed COVID vaccine mandate’s eff ect on businesses.

Mareeba Shire has now joined in the push against the mandate and taken it one step further, passing a resolution at their recent special meeting last Thursday. 

Council has received between 400-500 letters, emails and other forms of correspondence from shire residents expressing their concerns about the mandate. 

The resolution passed stated “that Council respectfully requests that the Premier and State Government take into account the concerns of some individuals and some members of the business community, and reconsiders the decision to introduce restrictions for unvaccinated people from 17 December 2021.” 

The motion was passed unanimously with all councillors stating their pro-choice stand and speaking for their community.

“This being a contentious issue, council must remain neutral and represent all of the residents in the shire… I believe people have a choice and that anything implemented should not discriminate against anyone,” Deputy Mayor Kevin Davies said. 

These comments were echoed by both Councillor Lenore Wyatt and Danny Bird, reiterating their positions as councillors and duty to represent residents. 

“I’ve maintained that I am pro-choice, and I am pro-choice for any person in our shire, in our state and in our country,” Cr Wyatt said. 

“I believe everyone has the right to voice their opinion and be heard. As a councillor, I believe I was elected to speak for the people, whoever they are and whatever their decisions are,” Cr Bird said. 

All the other councillors including Cr Locky Benstead, Cr Mary Graham, Cr Mario Mlikota and Mayor Angela Toppin shared these views. 

The health mandate announcement has affected businesses and people all across the Tablelands as it continues to sow discourse and confusion. 

Local Atherton resident Viviana Verheesen has spoken to multiple businesses and residents in the area about the looming mandate. 

“I personally listened to their stories, fears and wishes in wanting to keep this friendly community together,” she said. 

“I asked a cafe owner what he felt about it all. He shared that his customers had also become his personal friends over the years. 

“How do you say to a friend ‘You can’t come in?’ He doesn’t want to turn anyone away.” 

Member for Hill Shane Knuth said he had been stopped in the streets of his electorate and confronted by very emotional people, some in tears, including nurses who have lost their job over the mandates or small business owners who are being forced to sack their employees and police their own premises. 

In another valiant stand, nearly 400 members of the Mareeba community gathered at the Mareeba Turf Club on Sunday for a public meeting, with a focus on the mandate’s impact on local businesses. 

The purpose of the meeting was to put forward a petition to Mareeba Shire Council, asking them to say no to vaccine mandates and vote to ban vaccine mandates and passports/certificates in the Mareeba Shire. 

Meeting organiser Damion Jones hoped that the petition and turnout for the meeting would show council that the majority of fully vaccinated businesses don’t support the mandate. 

The official minutes of the public meeting were then handed onto council.

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