New Conservative supports the rights of our Defence force personnel.
Recently, the NZDF (New Zealand Defence Force) mandated that all personnel take the COVID-19 vaccine as a part of the baseline medical requirements for deployment in NZ and overseas. This decision has a far-reaching impact on service men and women who may have legitimate and genuine personal reasons for not getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
This is excessive and completely unnecessary, since the vast majority will not be actively deployed overseas or in MIQ, where the danger and risks may lie. It is a gross overreach of government power, undermining the rights of our valiant men and women in the defence forces. It is not acceptable in our democracy.
This mandate means that any personnel who refuse the vaccine will likely not be allowed to deploy on any missions, domestically or abroad. In effect, this renders those defence personnel redundant. Whilst there are options in place for NZDF personnel to apply for a waiver there are very few justifications and only for a limited period of time. This would result in those who cannot, or choose not to take the vaccine, will find themselves facing the same predicament further down the road.
New Conservative is aware that the New Zealand defence forces require the fittest, strongest and healthiest applicants and personnel to achieve their goals, provide a military defence of the nation when needed, and be of assistance when disaster strikes. However, the wisdom of this decision making process is being called into question. It is a small force and discharging even a small percentage of all uniformed personnel will have a significant impact, leaving some trades critically short of staff.
We ought to be doing all that we can to better the lot of these defence personnel, not forcing them into career changing decisions over something they did not join the Forces for. These soldiers, sailors, airmen and airwomen, are ready to put their lives on the line for the sake of our nation, but they also have a basic human right, in the interests of their own health, to decline medical treatment, having made up their own minds after considering all information available.
This mandate is a violation of their rights as stated in The Nuremberg Code, set out to ensure no person has medical procedures performed without explicit consent. This right is also protected by our own Bill of Rights Act 1990. Exercising this right may possibly preclude them from certain specific deployment in the future, but should not exclude them from general service.
New Conservative stands in support of our armed force personnel, those on active duty abroad, and those stationed here at home. We view their sacrifice as hugely valuable and we want to see these men and women treated with the respect they deserve. We call upon the NZDF to review this decision and make all necessary changes to retain all those who desire to serve, but who are not able or willing to take the vaccine at this time.
Kia kaha. Kia manawanui.