The Biosecurity Act, as I’ve noted before, is an extraordinary law that gives the executive arm of the federal government powers a dictator would find enticing and the people would, ordinarily, find terrifying.
COVID-19 is not ordinary and we have all become accustomed to being told what not to do. That includes extreme restrictions on freedom of movement. We assume, as citizens, that one of our inherent rights is to come and go from our country as we please, but we’ve accepted that that carries an obvious public health risk.
Since March 2020, it has been the law, pursuant to a determination made by Health Minister Greg Hunt using his powers under the Biosecurity Act, that Australian citizens and permanent residents cannot leave Australia without an exemption, which is only supposed to be granted if they can show “exceptional circumstances”, defined as “a compelling reason to leave”. The practical application of that rule has been opaque and, many of us suspect, arbitrary.