Two applicants challenged a number of measures, including mandatory vaccination and lockdowns, that Australia and local governments in New South Wales and Victoria, have enacted to avert the spread of COVID-19.
In particular, the applicants submitted that the measures were infringing on their right to bodily integrity and their freedom of movement and requested the court to declare that the above measures by the Federal and State governments were invalid as they were contrary to the Australian Constitution, inconsistent with the Fair Work Act 2009, and legally unreasonable.
By decision of 27 June 2022, the Federal Court of Australia concluded that the applicants’ case was more a “general attack on the government response across Australia to the COVID-19 pandemic” rather than a detailed case about their own circumstances. The judge found that the applicants’ requests were not sufficiently grounded on facts nor supported by established case law and determined that the applicants had no reasonable prospects of success. In particular, with regard to the principles concerning legal unreasonableness, the court first considered that unreasonableness needs to be assessed by reference to the outcome of an exercise of power or the manner in which it is exercised. It then considered that the threshold for legal unreasonableness is high, and that courts must avoid substituting their review to the discretional power by the government. In the case at stake, the court finally concluded that the applicants’ arguments do no more than express disagreement with the making and implementation of the challenged measures.