Australian court upholds most international travel bans

Canberra, Australia-On Tuesday, an Australian court dismissed a challenge to the federal government’s strict authority to prevent most citizens from leaving the country to prevent COVID-19 from being taken home.

Australia is the only developed democracy that prohibits its citizens and permanent residents from leaving the country, except in “exceptional situations” where it can provide “unavoidable reasons.”

Since March 2020, most Australians have been stranded in island nations by government emergency orders under strong biosecurity laws.

Libertarian group Libertarian Works attends weddings and funerals, cares for dying relatives, and meets newborn babies in front of a full bench in federal court in early May. He claimed that Health Minister Greg Hunt had no legal authority to enforce a travel ban that prevented him from doing so. Baby.

Jason Potts, a lawyer at LibertyWorks, claimed that Australians have the right to leave their country under the international convention on civil and political rights ratified by Australia.

However, the three judges ruled that obedience was based on “a false premise that rights are absolute.”

LibertyWorks lawyers argued that such biosecurity management orders are only imposed on individuals, not the entire population. This order may only be imposed if the individual has symptoms of a human illness on the list, is exposed to such illness, or does not comply with travel requirements.

The judge ruled that when legislators created emergency powers under the Biosecurity Act 2015, the interpretation of the law hampered Congress’s clear intentions.

“It may be admitted that travel restrictions are strict, and they may be found to be infringing on individual rights,” the judge said in a judgment. “But Congress was aware of that.”

Andrew Cooper, president of LibertyWorks, said he was considering appealing to the High Court.

“We are very disappointed with today’s ruling. We continue to believe that border closures are flawed in law and, perhaps more importantly, unjustified for human rights reasons. It’s also important to remember that legality isn’t always right, “Cooper said in an email.

“Europe and most countries in the world have opened their borders, but only North Korea and Australia continue to tightly control the capacity of citizens to leave,” Cooper added.

He expected hundreds of thousands of Australians to fly within a few weeks if they were elected.

Australian plane
Qantas plane taking off from Sydney International Airport on May 6, 2021. (Saeed Khan / AFP via Getty Images)

Critics of the emergency order argue that this is the toughest for 30% of Australians born abroad.

The government states that strict border controls have played an important role in Australia’s relative success in containing the spread of COVID-19.

Studies show that most Australians admire the government’s drastic border control.

According to a survey released last month by an Australian newspaper, 73% of respondents said they needed to close their borders at least until mid-next year.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported in its own survey last week that 79% of respondents agreed that the border should be closed until the pandemic is globally curtailed.

Critics of Australian travel restrictions argue that the decisions about who can travel and why they can travel are inconsistent and invisible.

Esther and Charles Baker, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish couple from Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city, refused two exemptions on a flight to New Jersey last June to attend the wedding of their youngest son. Was done.

They appealed to federal court for religious and cultural reasons in exceptional circumstances. However, the judge dismissed their proceedings and ordered the couple to pay the government’s legal costs for their challenge.

Those in the heart of Melbourne’s coronavirus cluster were allowed to attend a wedding in India. He was not infected in the country, but was infected during the 14-day hotel quarantine required after returning home. Officials say he infected travelers in another room on his floor and the virus was carried into the air.

Melbourne launched a seven-day lockdown on Friday for a cluster that had grown to more than 50 cases by Tuesday.

Australia and New Zealand opened an unquarantine travel bubble in April and would like to create such a bubble with other countries in time.

Rod McGark