Dunedin city councillor Lee Vandervis says his ability to fulfil his duties will be severely impacted by the decision to bar the unvaccinated from council properties.
The council yesterday announced a vaccine pass would be required by people entering its public facilities from today, the mandate extending to members of the public, council staff and elected members alike.
Vandervis said he was the only councillor who was not yet vaccinated, and as a result had been subject to suppression and now the threat of physical exclusion.
He had already had issues with being cut off and muted in virtual council meetings since the pandemic began, he said.
“Just being able to do things remotely and accepting that the DCC has the power to do what they’re currently doing are things that I do not believe are in the public interest.”
Vandervis said democracy had been under fire for some time. He cited items from the Bill of Rights related to the right to refuse medical treatment, the right to freedom of speech, the right to lawful assembly and the right to justice.
“All of these have been put under a very black cloud with this Government, and the DCC seems to be all too ready to follow suit.”
Council chief executive Sandy Graham said measures, such as remote meeting access, were being put in place to ensure elected officials without vaccine passes could continue to perform their duties.
Members of the public would also be provided remote access to meetings as required during this time, Graham said.
All staff and elected members were consulted during the development of the draft policy, and most respondents supported implementing a vaccination policy, she said.
The policy was approved by the council’s executive leadership team after the feedback was considered.
It is unclear how many other elected representatives around the South are unvaccinated.
Only the Queenstown Lakes District Council and the Wanaka Community Board have declared all their members are fully vaccinated.
The Invercargill City Council said it could not respond by deadline.
All other councils cited privacy in being unable to say whether all elected members were vaccinated.
Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said the expectation was that any who chose not to get vaccinated would need to Zoom in to council meetings.
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