Dan O'Heirity

The Covid-19 Lockdown Situation in Victoria, Australia is Complete Insanity

Two days ago I posted a story with a series of videos which, in my opinion clearly showing that Victoria, the state in Australia where I live, has become a police state with the police too often using excessive force when making arrests. Earlier today I posted a story arguing that the seriousness of the Covid-19 “pandemic” has been over exaggerated and that the current “second wave” of Covid-19 in Victoria is actually the fault of the Victorian government who mismanaged hotel quarantine processes such that the virus spread in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne before spreading more widely across metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria. Under current Covid-19 restrictions for metropolitan Melbourne, I have to stay in my home from 9PM through to 5AM due to a curfew. I can only travel within 5KM of my home. I am allowed outside for a maximum of 2 hours to exercise. I am allowed one visitor to my home because I live alone. I can go shopping on my own once a day. Finally, I can get takeaway from a restaurant or café.

This summary of the lockdown measures in metropolitan Melbourne is not exhaustive. I can be arrested for not wearing a mask in public. I can also be arrested if I am out after curfew. As per the 2008 “Health and Wellbeing Act“, under certain circumstances, police can enter my home without a search warrant just by citing public health concerns. This fact is given in Section 1, Subsection C of the act which reads that police can, “without a warrant, enter any premises and search for and seize any thing that is necessary for the purpose of investigating, eliminating or reducing the risk to public health“. An example of such a circumstance might be if the police believed that I had more than person in my home. It would be easy to accept that this provision is required in so that police ensure public health and well-being. However, let me ask you a question. Do police have the knowledge and skills to make public health decisions? I’m guessing that the answer is “no” and I would say that health decisions should be made by trained health personnel.

Any Balanced Perspective on Covid-19 in Victoria Would Recognize That Our Human Rights Are Being Violated

I recently came across an article in “The Conversation” looking at what is happening to our human rights under Covid-19. Before reading the article, I had some woolly ideas about our human rights being violated but, truth be told I was not really sure what this fact entailed. I also had some half-formed thoughts about our freedoms being restricted. Again, I did not really know what the restriction of freedoms entailed. The article argues that the human rights question under Covid-19 is a balancing act. First, governments have a responsibility to manage the virus in order to protect our rights to life and health. On the other side of the equation, rights to life and health have to be balanced against the rights that are restricted or even removed under Covid-19 regulations. For example, we have our human rights include the right to work and the right to adequate standards of living, education, and mental health.

We also have civil and political rights, such as freedoms of movement, association, assembly, the right to a fair trial. An example of these rights being violated is the arrest of a woman who was trying to organize a peaceful anti-lockdown protest on FaceBook. In this case, one might argue that the right to assembly was violated. The question is whether this limitation was necessary to “achieve a legitimate purpose”. Here, the legitimate purpose would be reducing the risk of the spread of Covid-19. “The Conversation” captures this balancing act between risk and human rights restrictions by using the concept of “proportionality”. Basically any restriction on our human rights must be in proportion to the aim of achieving a legitimate purpose.

Government Mishandling of Covid-19 Has Led to the Restrictions on Our Human Rights

The article in “The Conversation” quite rightly points out that there other ways to manage Covid-19 beyond restricting our human rights. For example, an effective management strategy and an effective communication strategy. However, the fact is that both the Federal and the Victorian government have mishandled the virus. First, as per my story from earlier today, the Victorian government mismanaged the hotel quarantine process which led to the “second wave” of the virus in Victoria. Secondly, the Federal government, which has responsibility for aged care services in Australia has failed to protect the most vulnerable members of society, those in aged care facilities. In this respect, the figures are completely damning. There have been 593 deaths in aged care services against a total of 750 deaths in Victoria as a whole.

This fact brings us back to the proportionality argument. Just as with influenza, Covid-19 is most lethal to the elderly rather than to the population at large and yet, rather than effectively protecting the most vulnerable members of society, the Victorian government has introduced draconian measures that have severely restricted our freedoms. To put it another way, government mismanagement of Covid-19 has led directly to our freedoms being restricted. The government has failed us and their response has been to lock us down. I will finish with a point that I have made many times over. If you watch the live data on Covid-19 you will see that the death rate continues to fall month by month. That death rate currently stands at 4% and it is steadily dropping. Ultimately the death rate will be no worse than the death rate for seasonal influenza. In terms of the proportionality argument, there is no justification for the restrictions that have been placed upon us.

First Published September 19th, 2020

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