Police and NZDF vaccine mandates ‘unlawful’, High Court rules

By 1news.co.nz and is republished with permission.

The High Court has ruled a vaccination mandate affecting the police and the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is unlawful.

Police, file.
Police, file. (Source: 1News)

Unvaccinated police officers and NZDF staff who faced losing their jobs on March 1 after the Government determined staff needed to be vaccinated challenged the order in the High Court. One-hundred and sixty-four police staff and 115 from the NZDF were affected.

Lawyers representing some who would lose their job argued, among other things, the mandate did “not allow consideration of exceptional individual circumstances [and] does not allow other ways to keep people safe, for example regular testing or working from home”.

READ MORE: Andrew Coster supports vaccine mandate for police

In a judgment released on Friday, Justice Cooke concluded “the order does not involve a reasonable limit on the applicants’ rights that can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society, and that is unlawful”.

“The order… was imposed to ensure continuity of the public services, and to promote public confidence in those services, rather than stop the spread of Covid-19.

“I am not satisfied that continuity of these services is materially advanced by the order.”

READ MORE: Omicron – what you need to know about Phase 3

Cook added this judgment did not question the effectiveness and importance of vaccination, as this was not what this case was about.

“The evidence shows that vaccination significantly improves the prospects of avoiding serious illness or death, even with the Omicron variant.

“Keeping people safe is what drives the members of police and NZDF that challenged this mandate. However, the way that the mandate was imposed by the government is unjustified,” said lawyers for the police and NZDF staff challenging the mandate.

“The vaccine order does not allow other ways to keep people safe, for example regular testing or working from home.”

A police spokesperson told 1News they will be taking time to consider the decision as the judicial decision has only just been released.

“In the meantime terminations of employment will not proceed at this time.”

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