City councilor votes against using vaccine pass to enter council facilities
Kelly Hodel / Stuff
Hamilton City Councilor Ryan Hamilton: “While many of these decisions have already been made by government, I will not argue that our council is helping by adding this extra step. (Archive photo).
Hamilton City Councilor Ryan Hamilton voted against measures to protect staff and the public from Covid by introducing a requirement to use My Vaccine Pass before you can enter council facilities.
Hamilton was the sole dissenter at a special board meeting on Tuesday called to discuss and approve the use of passes so the public can access places like the Hamilton Zoo, the Waikato Museum, the Walled Gardens of the Hamilton Gardens, council offices, libraries and other facilities.
The requirement will not be enforced for most of these locations until December 14, to give council staff time to make arrangements for the next step – but in time for the expected growth of Covid cases in the city one both the protective border with Auckland came to an end a day later.
Some facilities such as Waterworld, Gallagher Aquatic Center, Claudelands Arena and Showgrounds, FMG Stadium Waikato and Seddon Park – where two cricket matches are scheduled to take place on Friday night – will need to introduce passes that day.
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Hamilton used the debate to tackle the mandate and the vaccine itself.
“There are many aspects of this Covid business that I don’t like… [and] I understand the logic of the staff report. It’s a very good report, ”Hamilton told his colleagues.
“The issue of vaccination mandates is a delicate one… and cuts across labor legislation on human rights and public health. But the fundamental key to all of this is that the vaccine is, rightly or wrongly, seen as the holy grail of our release from Covid.
“I don’t hold him in the same esteem. Rather, it is a tool in a toolbox.
Drug regulator Medsafe has approved the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines as safe and effective based on peer-reviewed research. Still, Hamilton – who has already confirmed he was doubly vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine – didn’t seem convinced of the benefits.
“While this may bring improvements according to the mainstream media, it also causes grievances and divisions in many parts of our society – from teachers to nurses and firefighters and even within families. People need to reflect on their career path after years of dedicated service.
“People [are] being forced to reconcile something that they cannot reconcile physically, culturally, emotionally and spiritually.
“’If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your whanau. Do it for those who can’t ”is the incessant tale of screaming. While many of these decisions have already been made by the government, I will not argue that our board is contributing to them by adding this extra step today.
“I respect the decision made, maybe I just don’t agree with it.”
While some Hamilton colleagues admitted they were less than happy the action had to be taken, they said they understood the reasons for it. One of them was Deputy Mayor Geoff Taylor.
“It’s not a pleasant decision to make today, but I believe it’s the right thing to do,” Taylor said. “Freedoms will be compromised… [but] with freedom comes a responsibility – a responsibility for your community and your society.
“This is a huge global event akin to a world war. And in extreme situations, the freedoms sometimes need to be restricted to some extent. “
Mayor Paula Southgate said the move was a move she never thought council should make.
“No one really wants to make these decisions. No one really wants to face a global pandemic. But we are.
“We absolutely have to protect our staff. And we need to protect the members of our community.
Cr Ewan Wilson, who proposed the staff recommendation, said he was “more convinced than ever that sometimes what is best for the community at large sometimes means that there is a loss of individual rights”.
“I think our staff will appreciate it and our community will understand. “