An Adelaide emergency doctor who sought to challenge the state’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers has withdrawn his legal challenge in the Adelaide Magistrates Court.

Key points:

  • Healthcare workers at SA hospitals have been forced to go on leave if they cannot provide proof of COVID-19 vaccinations
  • The doctor sought to challenge the directions of SA’s State Coordinator, Police Commissioner Grant Stevens
  • He withdrew his legal action after hearing the court did not have jurisdiction to grant the injunction

Court documents reveal Ashford Hospital emergency medical officer Randy De Los Reyes Juanta sought to challenge the powers of the State Coordinator — Police Commissioner Grant Stevens — saying the vaccine mandate “was an abuse of office”.

Under a COVID-19 direction that came into force on Monday, unvaccinated healthcare workers at South Australian hospitals have been forced to go on leave if they cannot provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccination.

In Dr Juanta’s statement of claim filed to the court, he said he would no longer be allowed to work if he could not provide proof of his vaccination and compliance with the state direction.

He asked the court to suspend or stay the operation of the vaccine mandate direction, as well as determining the lawfulness of the powers of the state coordinator.

“Or seek professional medical advice with respect to a vaccination which will have lifelong implications to my body — long after the direction has ceased validity.

“Or the possible health, family, occupational, financial, personal, social, emotional, psychical and psychological impacts such COVID-19 vaccination may impact on me.”

Dr Juanta wrote he did not want himself or his employer — the Adelaide Community Healthcare Alliance (ACHA) — to be liable to prosecution.

“My employer is ‘the bunny in the middle’ by advising me that in order for ACHA to avoid prosecution, I will not be welcome back at work as of Monday, 1st November,” he wrote.

“I say that is an abuse of office by the State Coordinator.”

But ACHA’s lawyer, Ralph Bonig, said Dr Juanta’s application was “misconceived” and “flawed”.

“There is no cure for the problems the application faces in relation to the jurisdiction of this court.”

Magistrate Kate White said she agreed, and the Magistrates Court was not the forum.

“I would invite you to consider whether or not I have any jurisdiction to grant the injunction relief or the broader relief your client seeks,” she said.

“I’ve very little jurisdiction in relation to statutory claims … it certainly doesn’t include the legislation your client is seeking.”

Dr Juanta then withdrew his application.

Neither party sought costs.