(1/8/2022) – Final Hearing – The matter of Varnhagen & Others versus State of SA (CIV-21-013758) has reached its penultimate moment. Arguments were made orally in the Supreme Court this day by both the Crown and Applicants, which essentially concluded the case before her Hon. Justice Hughes. This hearing was brought on by the Crown for separate legal argument to strike out the case for the litigants. It was eloquently explained by Simon Ower, barrister for the litigants, that the mental gymnastics performed by the SA Parliament in amending the SA Public Health Act with what can only be described as a poorly constructed piece of law – that not even the attorney general could articulate clearly in the Second Reading Speech. In essence, the legal argument against the current version of the SA Public Health Act barely holds together any resemblance of clearly laid out laws. One merely needs only to attempt to follow the legal ‘chain of enquiry’ and work out how a person could be held criminally liable (yes be a criminal) for contracting covid-19 or being a close contact and breach a Direction that was made by a State Coordinator using another Act during the declaration of a Major Emergency that concluded on 24 May 2022. If you’re confused, you should be!
As it stands, the 7th Healthcare Worker Direction made by Mr Grantley Stevens whilst in his capacity as State Coordinator under a Declared Major Emergency in May 2022 is now the instrument that prevents healthcare workers from returning to work – even though the SA Public Health Act has no power to create such a Direction.
How the Crown can contend that the SA Public Health Act is properly in force despite acknowledging (transcripts to follow in due course) that prior to 25 May 2022 (the revocation of the declaration of major emergency) it mattered not that the Directions that were ‘apparently in force’ were ‘valid or not’ and to then say after 25 May 2022 (the proclamation of the amended SA Public Health Act) that the Directions are now valid and properly in force – seems to be a contrast that causes one to ask were these laws EVER legal? In any case, Justice Hughes has now all the material before her to make a decision – one that we hope is furnished sooner than later considering the effect these laws have had on the SA public and the delays in this case so far. The legal team, plaintiffs and supporters of the case against the laws – thank the greater public for their support and trust in the process. We are now in the hands of Justice Hughes decision. If the Crown is successful, the hearing is complete with Justice Hughes and the litigants will consider an Appeal to the SA Supreme Court of Appeal. If the litigants (we) are successful, the case will be concluded by Justice Hughes with closing submissions.
Meanwhile the SA public continue to suffer from not having suitably qualified, healthy and experienced healthcare workers (and others) returning to an already failing and waning public health system. This is of the upmost importance and one that should be shared amongst all your communities.