- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard acted "like a robot" when he issued a public health order to combat the state's COVID-19 crisis, a court has heard.
Multiple plaintiffs are challenging the legality of the order made on August 20 to deal with the state's delta variant outbreak.
The order, according to documents filed with the NSW Supreme Court, came into effect to stop people from leaving an "area of concern" for the purposes of work unless they are an authorised worker and have had a COVID-19 vaccine.
In challenges mounted by Northern Rivers woman Natasha Henry, construction worker Al-Munir Kassam and others, Mr Kassam's barrister Peter King said the effect of the order was that his clients were "forced against their will" into getting COVID-19 jabs.
He said they were being forced by coercion and or manipulation into being vaccinated "at pain of losing their livelihood".
He argued that the law supported "personal choice" unless expressly overridden.
"At the end of the day parliament ... has not endorsed such an approach," Mr King told the court on Friday.
He said of the plaintiffs' cause: "They are exercising their fundamental rights as Australian citizens to bring their concerns before the court".
He submitted that when the public health order was made, the only material Mr Hazzard had before him was a draft of the order that had been emailed to him.
"Like a robot he just signed off without ever engaging in any process of thinking about section 7?" Justice Robert Beech-Jones asked the barrister.
"That's the effect of it Your Honour, and we say that's the evidence."
Mr King also pointed to constitutional issues from the order being made after February 20, 2020 when NSW and the Commonwealth took a "joint approach" to curbing COVID-19.
The plaintiffs, in their submissions filed with the court, claim one basis to invalidate the order is that it impairs the express constitutional guarantee against a civil conscription.
"The Commonwealth was asking the state to apply the ... conscription and paying for it and setting out the parameters of the approach when it knew if it did it itself it would be invalid," Mr King said.
Legal unreasonableness was also in play in the challenge, he argued, as well as the order being beyond the scope of the minister's power as conferred by parliament.
"(It's) an impairment of those fundamental rights of the plaintiffs," he said.
The defendants, including Mr Hazzard and the state of NSW, are yet to open their defence case.
The hearing continues on Tuesday.