The Chief of Defence Force (CDF) yesterday released a directive as an order to members of the Defence Force directing that all uniformed personnel that haven’t received the COVID-19 Vaccine are to be subject to discharge. This now also includes all personnel that have not received a booster, which includes a significant portion of the Defence Force at a time when the organisation is already at critically low manning across all areas. This decision has been made despite the High Court ruling that the government order mandating the vaccine for Defence Personnel was unlawful.
The discharge method, known as a performance discharge, normally requires a minimum of a three month warning period. However, the CDF has directed that this requirement will be waived and service personnel now only require two weeks notice to be kicked out, if it’s for choosing to not receive the COVID-19 vaccine or a booster. This process would normally give the service member’s commanding officer the authority to retain them. This authority has also been taken away so that the decision will be made by service chiefs instead.
The CDF, Air Marshal Kevin Short, has consistently taken a hard line on vaccination and does not seem to have been deterred in this by the High Court ruling of it being an unjustified limitation of the rights of Service Personnel. Following this ruling, Frontline Law sent letters to the Police Commissioner and the Chief of Defence Force on behalf of the affected, unvaccinated personnel asking for engagement on how they would be reintegrated into their organisations. The Police Commissioner responded by meeting with affected personnel, answering their questions and discussing a way forward for their integration. In contrast, the CDF didn’t even acknowledge the letter and most unvaccinated service members are still unable to return to work.
This position has also seen all Defence Areas maintain vaccine passports even after they’ve been removed from most public places. The requirement is still extended to service personnel being able to do basic things like book leave centres or take their kids to the park if they’re posted to areas like Waiouru. While the rest of the country has moved on from vaccine passports, the NZDF hasn’t and are still implementing them as rigorously as ever. This is despite huge numbers of vaccinated personnel contracting and recovering from COVID-19 regardless of whether they happened to have an unvaccinated person in their vicinity or not.
Many service personnel have good reason to not want to receive the vaccine including religious grounds or having had a reaction to a previous dose. We’ve served New Zealand both domestically and overseas on operations. We now want to continue this battle for what is right by opposing this directive and the agenda for compulsory vaccinations to prove that these actions are not only immoral but also unlawful.