New Zealand Public Party vaccination video condemned as 'dangerous and misleading'

A screenshot of the misleading video.
A screenshot of the misleading video. Photo credit: New Zealand Public Party/Facebook.

The New Zealand Public Party (NZPP) has been blasted after uploading a video falsely claiming the Government had passed a law allowing it to "force" citizens to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Key parts of MPs' speeches were cut out to doctor the meaning of what they were saying in the video, uploaded to the party's Facebook page, AFP Fact Check said.

In the opening seconds of the video, ominous music plays as subtitles flash up with the incorrect claim.

"Labour passed a law change… They gave themselves the power… To force citizens to be vaccinated."

Andrew Geddis, a professor of law at Otago University,  told AFP the Government cannot - even under the COVID-19 Public Health Act - force anyone to be vaccinated as it would go against the New Zealand Bill of Rights.

"The Minister of Health can only make orders under the legislation if satisfied that the order does not limit or is a justified limit on the rights and freedoms in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990​, which then states in S11 that 'everyone has the right to refuse to undergo any medical treatment'." 

Viewed thousands of times, the misleading footage also misquotes Labour MP Megan Woods and National's Erica Stanford talking in the House about the COVID-19 Public Health Response Amendment Bill.

At 34 seconds into the video Stanford says "just to be absolutely clear, this act in this part lays the potential future groundwork for people to be required to be vaccinated".

The misleading video then cuts away before the sentence ends, taking out the crucial clarification "before they enter New Zealand".

Stanford has blasted the Public Party, saying its video is "dangerous and misleading".

"By cutting out part of my comments and questions and using selective responses from the minister, it looks like we are discussing mandatory vaccinations for Kiwis, which was not the case," she told AFP.

Woods is also misquoted. In the video, the beginning of one of her statements has been edited out.

She is shown saying "but the critical part of this legislation is making sure it is future-proofed. This is a rapidly evolving global situation that could in the future include the requirement that someone is vaccinated."

Missing is her clarification the legislation is a "framework or which secondary instruments, regulation, will set specifics".

A spokesperson for Woods reiterated this in a statement to AFP, saying the legislation "could enable regulations around the requirement to be vaccinated before returning to New Zealand, however this would be subject to its own legislative process and is not currently law". 

The Public Party's website says if elected, it will conduct "an independent People's Commission" to investigate vaccines.

Jami-Lee Ross, the co-leader of Advance NZ, told Newshub everything used in the video is "accurate".

"The video states: 'In the last week of Parliament, as the House sat under urgency, Labour passed a law change, they gave themselves the power to force citizens to be vaccinated'.

"This is accurate as the amendments to section 11 of the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 provide the ability for a Minister to issue an order requiring those crossing the New Zealand border to satisfy any specified criteria."

He said Stanford admitted the powers can be used in relation to vaccinations. 

"As New Zealanders will be crossing the border, the power can be used to effectively force citizens to be vaccinated if the Government deems that necessary as a specified criteria an individual must satisfy before entering New Zealand."

Ross says Advance NZ's policy is to repeal the act and "take a more balanced and risk-based approach to dealing with COVID-19".

"We will not ever require, force, or coerce citizens to be vaccinated; nor discriminate against those that choose not to be vaccinated."