Police officers inform beachgoers that Brighton Beach is closed (Image: AAP/Scott Barbour)

The reflexive “common sense” response to the complaints of civil rights advocates about repressive criminal laws is basically this: what’s the big deal? If you’re not doing the wrong thing, you’ve got nothing to worry about.  

In the COVID-19 world, that logic has ramped up with the extra ingredient of necessary expediency: sure, we’re putting up with unprecedented restrictions, but a bit of greyness around the edges of these new laws is to be expected. It’ll be fine, relax.

Sure, until you’re the one standing on a street corner in the middle of the day trying to explain to the armed police officers encircling you why your trip across the road to get a takeway coffee constituted a reasonable excuse to have left your home. On my reading of the NSW law, it may not be.  That’ll be $1000 and an experience that only Indigenous Australians usually get to enjoy.