Court ruling on vaccine mandate ‘not relevant’ for nurses

March 2, 2022

A High Court judgement overturning the COVID-19 vaccination mandate for New Zealand Police/Defence Force is ‘not relevant’ for nurses, say NZNO lawyers.

Jock Lawrie
Jock Lawrie

The High Court on February 25 found the Government requirement for NZ police/defence staff to receive two vaccine doses by March 1 to be unlawful, after a review was sought by three unvaccinated police/defence employees. The three claimed the mandate breached their human rights.

Justice Francis Cooke granted their application, ruling the mandate did limit the right to refuse medical treatment and the right to manifest religion or belief, as recognised by the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act (sections 11 and 15).

However, this did not affect any other vaccine mandates, Cooke said. “In essence”, the police/defence staff mandate was imposed to ensure continuity of service and public confidence in those services, rather than stop the spread of COVID-19, he said.

With so few unvaccinated police/defence staff, it were unlikely to affect the continuity of services, Cooke said. “I am not satisfied that the order makes a material difference. . . ”

Only 279 of the combined total of more than 31,000 police/defence staff remained unvaccinated, it was revealed in court.

NZNO employment lawyer Jock Lawrie said, by contrast, the vaccine and booster mandate for health workers was for public health reasons, and intended to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The High Court decision had no immediate application to the health sector, Lawrie said.

Attorney-General David Parker – who has since been diagnosed with COVID-19 – has not yet said whether the Government would appeal the decision.