Australian rights chief issues warning over emergency pandemic powers

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Sydney, Oct.22, 2020 (dpa/Naija247news) Emergency powers used by Australia’s Federal and State Governments to combat the Coronavirus pandemic could be infringing individual rights, the country’s human rights chief warned on Thursday.

Australian Human Rights Commission president, Rosalind Croucher told a parliament committee that some restrictions imposed on people in the name of public health could be exceeding legal limits, Guardian Australia reported.

Croucher said public health emergency orders could be abused because they aren’t subject to the same scrutiny as normal legislation.

She also said divisions between Federal and state governments in Australia weakened checks and balances on executive power.

Australians had been exposed to potentially unnecessary infringements on their rights, she told the committee.

As an example she cited the fact that the federal government helps Australians stranded overseas to return, but it is the state governments who determines how many people can arrive in their jurisdiction and go through hotel quarantine.

The Federal government has banned Australians from leaving the country unless they can provide a satisfactory reason.

The state of Victoria has faced scrutiny for its harsh restrictions.

Some business figures in the state of Victoria have launched a legal challenge in the High Court to the state’s strict lockdown laws and closed borders.

Pub owner Julian Gerner argues Australia’s constitution implies freedom of movement. A hearing is set down for Nov. 6.

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