Australians’ fundamental rights may be at risk if the government does not lift its travel ban, the Federal Court has heard.
On Thursday, a lawyer for conservative think tank LibertyWorks argued that Australia’s Biosecurity Act did not allow the government to ban international travel.
“In the context of the human biosecurity emergency, the act still contains limits and protections on those powers,” Jason Potts SC told the Federal Court, according to ABC News.
“It is clear from the statutory scheme … the legislators showed considerable concern for individual rights … even in circumstances of national emergency.
“The idea of a blanket prohibition on people leaving the country … up until this pandemic, that was not a measure that had been taken.”
Since March last year, citizens and permanent residents have been banned from leaving Australia unless they are approved for an exemption on compassionate grounds.
However, many people have reported being repeatedly denied an exemption.
Permanent resident and Brisbane travel agent Philine Matzner told ABC News she was refused to see her terminally ill father in Germany twice, and even a third time after he had died despite providing a death certificate.
According to Potts, freedom of movement is considered a fundamental right that Australians are being denied.
Representing the Commonwealth, Stephen Donaghue QC said LibertyWork’s interpretation of the act was wrong.
“The [act] recognises that right [to freedom of movement], except it’s subject to reasonable grounds like public health,” he said, adding that under their interpretation of the act contact tracing, enforcement of mask-wearing and other restrictions around hospitals and aged care facilities would also not be allowed.
ABC News reported that the judges have reserved their decision to be delivered at a later date.
Travel Weekly has contacted LibertyWorks for comment, but did not received a response at time of publishing.
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