The announcement that the draconian Melbourne curfew will cease at midnight tonight does not absolve the Victorian Government from responsibility for what appears to be a significant breach of human rights.
As I stated on 10 September 2020 (see https://sarahhenderson.com.au/victorian-governments-curfew-a-serious-violation-of-human-rights/), Victoria Police and the Chief Health Officer have admitted that a curfew was not required for either policing or public health reasons. As I argued, on the evidence available, a nightly curfew which so dramatically limited the right to freedom of movement and liberty was not proportionate to the public health risk and therefore does not comply with Australia’s obligations under international human rights law.
I also believe the curfew does not comply with the Victorian Charter for Human Rights. I am disappointed I have not received a response to my request for an assessment of the curfew made to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission on 11 September 2020. I have also requested the Australian Human Rights Commission’s assessment which has not been forthcoming.
Tomorrow, the Supreme Court action launched by Mornington café owner Michael Loielo will get underway which will test the extent to which the Government is liable for the extensive economic damage the curfew has caused Victorian businesses.
Omnibus Bill provisions must not become law
Victorians should also be seriously concerned about some provisions of the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency) and Other Acts Amendment Bill 2020 (Vic) which are now before the Victorian Legislative Council.
If passed by Parliament, these provisions would confer powers that would allow citizens to indefinitely detain a person suspected of being COVID-19 positive or a close contact, based only on a belief that such a person might not comply with an emergency direction.
This appears to be another very disturbing breach of human rights imposed by Victorian Labor. These provisions must not become law.
Roadmap uncertainty remains
While I welcome the significant drop in coronavirus cases and the easing of restrictions, I am concerned that case number trigger points will continue to determine a further easing of restrictions rather than the model being used in NSW which uses first class contact tracing, testing and containment processes.
In order to reach the Last Step in metropolitan Melbourne, there must be zero new cases in the community for more than 14 days which is a very difficult and uncertain threshold, especially for businesses seeking to fully re-open. As supported by numerous epidemiologists, the Third Step threshold (5 new cases) and Last Step threshold (zero new cases) must be urgently reviewed.
27 September 2020