Australians must brace for a ‘Big Brother’ intrusion on the personal liberty we all take for granted

Australians must brace for a ‘Big Brother’ intrusion on the personal liberty we all take for granted, by George Williams, dean of law at the University of NSW.

Government officials can impose a human biosecurity control order on any person displaying one or more symptoms of COVID-19, as well as any other person they have been in contact with. These orders permit the government to bypass the need for personal consent.

Anyone subject to such an order can have their liberty and freedom restricted in numerous ways. They can be compelled to reveal every other person they have been in contact with and to remain at their residence or in isolation at a government facility. They can also be subject to medical examination and be compelled to provide body samples and submit to treatment. Anyone who fails to follow such directions can be detained by the police and jailed for five years.

The government can determine who comes to Australia and can establish human health response zones to restrict who enters or leaves a location within Australia. Areas with an outbreak, including towns, suburbs and streets, can be closed and quarantined. This might involve roadblocks and other means of preventing free movement. …

A possible dictatorship:

The most remarkable power lies in the federal Biosecurity Act. It permits the governor-general to declare a human biosecurity emergency to limit the spread of a disease that is posing a severe and immediate threat on a national scale.

Once the emergency has been declared, the federal health minister is vested with unfettered personal power of a kind normally only found in a dictatorship. The minister may determine “any requirement” and make “any direction” needed to prevent or control the disease. These cannot be disallowed by parliament and override any other law. Failure to comply is liable to five years’ imprisonment.

This is the “whatever-it-takes” clause. …

Did you know that we are already there?

Last Wednesday, the Governor-General declared, in accordance with the Biosecurity Act, that “a human biosecurity emergency exists”. This had the effect of vesting Health Minister Greg Hunt with the most significant powers that can be conferred upon an individual in Australia. Power that will last for three months at least.

Dictator of Australia … yep, this guy

Events have moved so quickly that last-resort options now need to be deployed. … Governments will use the very large sticks at their disposal to remove the last vestiges of complacency in the community and ensure compliance with biosecurity measures in the interest of all Australians.

hat-tip Stephen Neil