- Government lawyers admit key workers do not face mandatory Covid jabs
- They say the jabs are simply a way to become exempt from some lockdown laws
- Workers can choose not to be vaccinated but then will stay in strict lockdown
- A group of 10 people have taken NSW health minister to court over Covid rules
- They claim they’re being discriminated against and question Covid jabs safety
Teachers and aged care workers are not being forced to get a Covid vaccine, government lawyers have insisted, but are simply left unable to take advantage of exemptions to the stay-at-home orders afforded to the double jabbed.
If workers in key industries choose not to get jabbed, it could temporarily limit their ability to work, lawyers for NSW health minister Brad Hazzard admitted to the Supreme Court.
They claimed those who do choose to get jabbed are merely being excused some of the lockdown limitations – meaning those who refuse the vaccine cannot benefit from the same freedoms.
A group of 10 people – including a teacher, health care worker and a mechanic – are trying to overturn rules which require teachers and aged care workers to be vaccinated before returning to work.+5
Teachers and aged care workers do not face mandatory Covid vaccine jabs, government lawyers for NSW health minister Brad Hazzard (pictured) have admitted+5
NSW Supreme Court (pictured) heard that if workers in key industries choose not to get jabbed, it could temporarily limit their ability to work – but jabs were not being forced on them
DO YOU AGREE WITH MANDATORY VACCINES FOR SOME WORKERS?Yes – for health care, aged care and hotel quarantine staffYes – for all workersNo – no one should have to
They say the NSW state government is forcing some workers to be vaccinated against their will to be able to go to work.
They’re also fighting laws requiring authorised workers to prove they’ve been jabbed before they can leave coronavirus hotspots in Sydney.
Lawyers for the group told Justice Robert Beech-Jones on Tuesday that the orders were an attempt to coerce their clients into receiving a vaccination.
They say the orders discriminate against a minority group, and that Mr Hazzard had no power to sign off on them.
But NSW state government has hit back at the claims and say no-one is being forced to get jabbed, just that those who are will be excused from some of the restrictions. +5
A group of 10 people – including a teacher, health care worker and a mechanic – are trying to overturn rules mandating vaccination for some key workers (pictured, a Pfizer Covid dose being administered in Sydney on Monday)
Jeremy Kirk, barrister for Mr Hazzard, told the court the case wasn’t about vaccine mandates and the lockdown rules were just a temporary restriction on movement.
But, he said, workers could avoid some of those restrictions if they chose to get vaccinated.
‘There is no requirement for vaccination,’ Mr Kirk said. ‘There is a condition on the exception (to the stay-at-home orders) which people can take advantage of, or not.’
Mr Kirk said the state probably did have the power to force people to be vaccinated if ‘some terrible disease’ like Ebola were threatening society.
Teachers, like the one pictured here, and care workers in NSW must be vaccinated by November 8, or they won’t be allowed on the premises of educational facilities
But, he said, ‘Your Honour doesn’t have to decide (that).’
The workers’ lawyers have also launched an attack on the safety and effectiveness of the Covid vaccines.
But Mr Kirk dismissed their arguments and said Mr Hazzard didn’t need to listen to anti-vaxxers when there is clear evidence to support the public health orders.
He also refuted the claims of the plaintiffs who insist their ‘fundamental rights’ are being violated.+5
Lawyers for NSW health Minister Brad Hazzard say workers, like can aged care worker pictured here, who do choose to get jabbed will merely be excused some of the lockdown limitations
‘Is there economic pressure? Yes,’ Mr Kirk said in reply.
‘But… there are real choices to be made. The fact that there are real choices to be made is illustrated by the 10 plaintiffs who’ve made that choice.’
Teachers and care workers in NSW must be vaccinated by November 8, or they won’t be allowed on the premises of educational facilities.
Aged care workers also need to have received at least one dose before the end of the month.
Health care workers have until the end of November to get both doses.
The Supreme Court will continue hearing closing submissions in the case on Wednesday