Sunday, 21 July, 2024
HomeMedico-Legal‘Medical apartheid’ challenge to restrictions on unvaccinated workers dismissed

‘Medical apartheid’ challenge to restrictions on unvaccinated workers dismissed

A legal challenge to New South Wales (NSW) public health orders that restrict the activities of residents who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 – described as “medical apartheid” – has failed in the state’s Supreme Court.

A Sydney Morning Herald report notes that Justice Robert Beech-Jones last week dismissed two lawsuits challenging a number of public health orders made by NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard, including those that mandate vaccines for health and aged care workers, NSW police, staff in public schools and preschools, and the construction industry.

The lawsuits were brought by multiple plaintiffs, including aged care workers Natasha Henry and Selina Crowe, paramedic John Larter, high school special education teacher Julie Ramos, and construction worker Al-Munir Kassam.

Beech-Jones said the plaintiffs “all state they have made an informed choice to refuse to be vaccinated”and sought for the public health orders requiring them to be vaccinated to be declared invalid. Delivering his judgment, Beech-Jones noted it was not the court’s function to “conclusively resolve legitimate debates concerning the appropriate treatments for COVID-19 or the effectiveness of the vaccines”. Those are “matters of merits, policy and fact for the decision-maker, not the court”, he said.

The right to bodily integrity was not violated as the orders didn't authorise the involuntary vaccination of anyone while the degree to which the freedom of movement was impaired differed depending on whether a person is vaccinated or unvaccinated, he said.

"Curtailing the free movement of persons including their movement to and at work are the very type of restrictions that the Public Health Act clearly authorises," Justice Beech-Jones said.

He also dismissed claims Health Minister Brad Hazzard acted outside his powers, by not asking the right questions or failing to take into account relevant considerations.

The case was the first in a series across Australia challenging various limitations on unvaccinated people.

Beech-Jones directed the parties to confer as to costs, to be determined at a future hearing if agreement cannot be reached.


Sydney Morning Herald article – Challenge to COVID-19 vaccine mandate fails in NSW Supreme Court (Restricted access)


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