The NSW government’s direction for construction workers to get the jab if they want to return to work faces a potential constitutional challenge, which could have ramifications for state powers to mandate vaccinations.

Sydney lawyer Nathan Buckley, is now seeking to raise $1 million for a class action against the vaccine requirement for workers from eight of the Sydney hotspot local government areas introduced this week.

The legal action has attracted attention from some construction workers angry at the new requirement, which is also not supported by the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union, and several other lawyers have raised their hand to run their own actions.

“My argument is only the Commonwealth has the exclusive power under s51(ix) of the constitution to make laws with respect to quarantine, and the scope of that power is limited – it does not allow the passing of laws that allow mass vaccinations,” he said.

”No doubt in the coming days and weeks it’s not just going to be construction workers – it’s going to be hospitality workers, it’s going to be anybody that works in a pub or a club, has face-to-face day-to-day business with customers who will be compelled, coerced, manipulated into getting a COVID-19 vaccination.”

He said he was discussing the matter “with junior and senior counsel” on Friday.

Australian Catholic University dean of law and constitutional law professor Patrick Keyzer said it may not be constitutional for the Commonwealth to compel people to get vaccinated, because of the bar on conscription.