One of the people who challenged a NSW vaccination rule in court made a strange request as thousands of people tuned in to watch the hearing.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard faces a number of Supreme Court challenges to public health orders that require workers to be vaccinated, including a bizarre case that references the “microchip” of a man’s family, according to has heard a court.
Three of the civil cases will be subject to a hearing later this month, including proceedings initiated by a NSW police officer who is struggling to return to work.
The three lawsuits are set up as a test case for the state and more than 50,000 viewers at one point tuned in to a YouTube broadcast on the matter on Thursday, a sign of massive public interest.
During an instruction hearing before Judge Robert Beech-Jones, the court heard that all three cases were challenging the public health order that requires certain workers to be vaccinated before they can return to work.
Under the order, authorized workers in various areas of local government concern have until September 19 to get vaccinated before they are allowed to leave their local LGAs to work.
Attorney Peter King, who represents Al-Munir Kassam, told the court that his client’s case would hinge on a “simple excess of power” argument.
“It’s a question of the minister’s power to make the royal order under section seven of the (Public) Health Act,” King said.
“And we say to read consistently, with the principle of legality established by the Superior Court, it is not authorized.”
The court heard that the minister’s ability to issue orders under the Public Health Law would be a central feature of all three cases.
Attorney Jason Harkess, representing Natasha Henry, said they were challenging the “safety and reasonableness of a mandatory vaccination program.”
Dr. Harkess said he intended to call two expert international witnesses: an immunologist and a vaccinologist.
“They are going to weigh in on safety, efficacy and need in the individual and also on a massive public program,” said Dr. Harkess.
The three cases were filed separately, however, Judge Beech-Jones said that they should all be heard together because there was significant overlap.
The attorneys representing Belinda Kay Hocroft, a senior officer in the Mounted Police and Dog Unit, wanted the matter expedited because she wanted to get back to work as soon as possible.
Hazzard’s attorney, Jeremy Kirk, told the court that they would rely on evidence from one or more of the state’s deputy health directors.
A fourth plaintiff, Sergey Naumenko, is also seeking similar orders.
However, the state is requesting that its challenge be dismissed due to what it called “major issues” with the case, including failing to name a defendant.
“There is no articulated legal claim, rather there is an aspirational set of orders that are, to a large extent, totally ill-conceived,” Kirk said.
“As Proposed Order Two Plaintiff and Immediate Family Are Microchip Exempt.”