There has never been a time when Acton’s and Maddison’s warnings about the abuse of power and the danger of dictatorship have been more relevant to the world’s oldest continuing democracies, and especially Australia and America.
When the Wuhan virus struck, Australia’s leaders ignored world’s best practice, guided instead notoriously failed modelling as well as the panic ignited by that propaganda arm of the Democrats, America’s mainstream media.
For them the Wuhan virus has replaced Russian collusion as their principal weapon to stop Trump from draining their swamp.
Our politicians’ solution to the virus was blunt and crude. It was to accelerate their wanton destruction of Australia’s economy.
They long ago begun this by calling a halt to water harvesting and transferring manufacturing to Communist China while increasing immigration but only into congested cities, making it next to impossible for the young to fulfil the Australian dream and buy a house.
They followed this with their quasi-religious conversion to global warming, which teaches the delusion that they can and they must change the climate.
Imposing massive increases in electricity costs. they have now put the last nail into Australian manufacturing.
Rather than being just barnacles on the nation, the politicians are now turning into petty dictators.
The hallmark of a dictatorship is to deny citizens the universally recognized right to leave the country.
Because the National Cabinet has no place in the Constitution, its decisions are effected by ministers making inadequately scrutinised subordinate legislation.
One example is the Stalinist decision to refuse to allow citizens to leave the country. Exercising a power under the Biosecurity Act ‘to prevent or control the spread’ of the virus ‘to another country’, the Health Minister on 25 March decreed that an Australian citizen ‘must not leave Australian territory as a passenger’ without satisfying some faceless bureaucrat that he or she has ‘a ‘compelling reason’ to leave.
The reasons are narrowed down on the official website. Officials and businesspeople apart, ‘compelling reasons’ are limited to medical treatment not available in Australia or on compassionate or humanitarian grounds. According to reports, these take time and are rarely granted.
This almost blanket ban on travelling is beyond the narrow power Parliament gave the minister to stop the spread of the virus to another country. This is a funnel the size of which constrains the minister, whatever the National Cabinet wants, to make subordinate legislation of no greater width. .He could have quite properly required that people leaving be tested.. But like a Stalinist state, you can’t leave without the agreement of some faceless bureaucrat.
This tyrannical requirement could be as much an actionable misfeasance in public office as was the Gillard government’s totally unnecessarily and legally unjustifiable total ban on the export of live cattle to Indonesia.
This is but one example of ministers wielding powers unnecessarily and capriciously restricting Australians in the exercise of their fundamental rights, including the common law rights to carry on a business, to work or to move around.
Power has gone to the politicians’ heads.
In addition, enormous financial and personal havoc and distress is being caused by closing state borders notwithstanding the constitutional guarantee in section 92 that trade, commerce and intercourse should be absolutely free.
Little regard has been shown to the fact that vast parts of a state may be in no danger, or that some economically integrated districts cross state borders.
While the politicians will argue that they can constitutionally act to stop infection, this is too often not necessary or proportionate to the risk and thus unconstitutional
ly. Why doesn’t Canberra act?
Rather, closures seem too often to be imposed ,capriciously, arbitrarily and for the political advantage of power-drunk politicians under the delusion that they are demonstrating the strength that wins elections and impresses a gullible media.
This is one appalling aspect to a totally misjudged response to the Wuhan virus: failing to protect the vulnerable while imposing excessive financial and emotional problems on the population.
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Professor David Flint is an emeritus professor of law and was chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Authority and the Australian Press Council, president of the National Federation of the English Speaking Union, Associate Commissioner with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and convenor of the Committee of Australian Law Deans. He has been National Convenor of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy since the 1999 referendum campaign. The author of several books, he has published widely on topics such as the media, international economic law and on the Constitution. At Barcelona in 1991, he received a World Jurist Association award as World Outstanding Legal Scholar. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1995.