Thursday, November 18, 2021

Victoria, Australia a test of people's will

COVID Mandates In Victoria, Australia, Have Unexpected Consequences

If Lockdowns were an Olympic sport, Victoria, Australia would be hard to beat. It’s been described as the most locked-down place in the world under COVID-19. Sadly, it’s also become the location where a once free society now targets civil liberties. A perfect example is Monica Smit, of Reignite Democracy Australia, who served 22 days in jail in solitary confinement after being charged with incitement. Her crime? Organizing a protest against lockdowns.In the United States, our Constitution recognizes our inherent rights to free speech, a free press, and peaceable assembling to air grievances towards our government. So, it comes as a shock when a freedom-loving country like Australia starts arresting those who want to express their grievances about lockdowns through peaceable assembly.

You might be wondering when protesting within a free society become illegal. This is the part where it starts to sound like poorly written draconian fan fiction (which, sadly, it’s not).

First and foremost, nowhere in the Australian Constitution is any promise or guarantee made regarding freedom of speech or protected expressions. Apart from Australian High Court rulings which are somewhat supportive of freedoms, you must look at the state level for signs of individual rights.

The State of Victoria has Section 15 of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006, which provides individual freedoms that are similar to the First Amendment. However, it also has a ‘clause to pause’ freedoms on Section 15(3):Special duties and responsibilities are attached to the right of freedom of expression and the right may be subject to lawful restrictions reasonably necessary.

That leads to Section 198 of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (“The Public Health Act”). Under the Public Health Act, the Chief Health Officer (“CHO”) has emergency powers to implement directives addressing any significant health crisis.

As we’ve seen under COVID-19, rarely does a crisis go to waste, especially when the crisis gives the government carte blanche violate the Charter of Human Rights, etc., with impunity. Suddenly the government can quell divisions and identify everything as a punishable public nuisance.

The CHO then gets to implement certain directives, with the failure to adhere to those directives rising to the level of criminal disobedience. That category now covers being outside past curfew, not wearing a face mask, or having more than ten people in your house.

In Monica Smit’s case, the CHO logic that got her into strife goes something like this:


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