Qld mayor accused of vaccine 'misconduct'

A central Qld mayor said he hoped the local health service didn't 'stuff up' the vaccine rollout.
A central Qld mayor said he hoped the local health service didn't 'stuff up' the vaccine rollout.

A central Queensland mayor is facing an allegation of misconduct for raising concerns about the local rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Barcaldine Regional Council Mayor Sean Dillon said he had "no confidence" in the Central West Hospital and Health Service rolling out the jab and he hoped they didn't "stuff it up", during a council meeting on February 17.

The state's Independent Assessor is investigating whether the comments could be " detrimental to public confidence" in the local vaccine drive.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says the probe is "ridiculous" and Mr Dillon had done a great job promoting the rollout in Barcaldine.

"It's a bit of a storm in a teacup, I don't think what he said was unusual," she told reporters on Wednesday.

"I think it's a bit ridiculous but that's a matter for the Independent Assessor, but you know those comments I think were made earlier this year, and they've had great vaccination rates out there and the Mayor, Sean, I know him, he's done a great job."

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said the state government supports the rights of councillors to speak freely, but it doesn't control the OIA as it's an independent statutory body.

"If anyone has concerns about the actions of the OIA, they should raise those concerns with the Queensland Ombudsman," he said.

The Local Government Association of Queensland CEO Greg Hallam says Mr Dillon had a right to speak publicly about the rollout in his region.

Mr Hallam said free speech was implied in the constitution and the mayor's comments weren't controversial.

"The vaccine rollout is discussed on a daily basis by politicians at all levels and on all sides of government," he said.

"It would literally be mentioned hundreds of times a day in the Queensland media."

The LGAQ has threatened to take the matter to the High Court if the Independent Assessor finds against Mr Dillon.

Mr Hallam said the LGAQ supported the role of the Office of the Independent Assessor, but it was "way wide of the mark on this issue".

"It doesn't pass the pub test nor accord with the Australian Constitution," he said.

"The OIA needs to recognise their error, withdraw their action and get back to their important work which does not include pontification on political speech" he said.

Liberal National Party integrity spokeswoman Fiona Simpson said the reports about Mr Dillon were "deeply concerning" as elected officials should be free to express their views on policies without fear of prosecution.

She said the mayor was merely pointing out some possible logistical difficulties about the vaccine rollout in the Barcaldine region.

"I fear there is a genuine risk being posed to our democracy," Ms Simpson said in a statement.

Australian Associated Press