Biosecurity

Stephen Andrew statement on new Biosecurity Bill

Many people have been calling and emailing me the last few days, extremely alarmed over a new Bill introduced into Federal Parliament on 1 September 2021. The Biosecurity Amendment (Enhanced Risk Management) Bill 2021, grants the federal government significant new emergency powers, with one such power ringing alarm bells across the country.
The provisions causing the most angst are those expanding the State’s power under the Act, to impose draconian ‘biosecurity control orders’ over people. Currently, this power is limited to “individuals”. The new Bill expands this power to include whole groups or “class of individuals” as well. Under the current Act, the power to impose Biosecurity Control Orders give the government almost unlimited powers to restrict people’s movement, mandate medical tests, examinations and the taking of “samples”, as well as “medical treatments” such as vaccination.
While the notion of ‘consent’ is retained under the Act, failure to comply means individuals, and now groups, can be “detained” for as long as “necessary”. They can also be charged with offences punishable by up to 15 years in prison, under the new Bill. These are draconian and coercive powers, and Australians are right to be concerned at any expansion of them.
However, after reading through the Bill carefully, I am pretty sure the new powers DON’T apply to ‘groups’ or ‘classes of individuals’ WITHIN the general population.
Under Clause 4 of the Bill, Section 3 of the Act is amended as follows:
“Methods of managing risk to human health include imposing a human biosecurity control order on an individual, AND MAKING A HUMAN BIOSECURITY GROUP DIRECTION FOR A CLASS OF INDIVIDUALS, WHO HAVE, OR HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO, A LISTED HUMAN DISEASE”.
The critical issue here is what is the Bill’s definition of “class of individuals”.
According to the Bill a “human biosecurity group direction means a direction made under section 108B”.
Clause 108B reads:
(2) “Class of individuals must be all the individuals, or a group of individuals, who:
(a) Are on board an aircraft or a vessel that is in Australian territory; or
(b) The officer is satisfied are at a landing place or port in Australian territory, or at a place that is in close proximity to a landing place or port in Australian territory, where an aircraft or vessel has arrived at the landing place or port”.
The newly created powers therefore ONLY APPLY to those ‘groups’ and ‘classes’ of people travelling to and from Australia, either by plane or ship.
That doesn’t mean I agree with the Bill, or that the worrying glimpse the Bill offers into the mindset of our leaders doesn’t concern me – I don’t and it does.
However, it isn’t the guaranteed trip to an internment camp that some people are worried about either. ?
NB: I may have missed something so let me know in the comments if you disagree.
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