Queensland Opposition Minister Jarrod Bleijie has asked the Queensland Human Rights Commissioner, Scott McDougall, to “investigate the allegation of a human rights breach by the Palaszczuk Government regarding border restrictions that are denying Queenslanders their right to lawfully return to Queensland.”
Mr Bleijie submits that refusing Queensland residents to the state breaches section 58 (1) (a) and section 58 (1) (b) of the Queensland Human Rights Act of 2019, which make it unlawful for a public entity to make a decision incompatible with human rights, or which fails to give proper consideration to a human right.
He also argues that every person within Queensland has the right to move freely within the state, enter it, leave it, and to choose where they live.
The Queensland Government has not only locked out it’s own residents during it;s latest harsh border closures, there have been instances of residents who have been unable to permanently relocate to the Sunshine State, and many instances where residents in Northern New South Wales have been stopped from entering Queensland, even for medical reasons, or to visit critically ill or dying family members.
Only recently, HR Commissioner McDougall himself called on the Queensland Government for more transparency around Covid border exemptions, and for a more consistent approach.
‘Hundreds of complaints’ against QLD border policies
Mr McDougall said his office has fielded hundreds of complaints over the handling of exemptions and he believed there were a significant number of examples where compromise could have been met. He said there were also a number of examples which favoured celebrities and people with a media profile, and urged the Queensland Government to consider other options, such as home quarantine, to take the pressure off the hotel quarantine system.
Only recently the Queensland Government denied a request from a family with a sick child returning from treatment at Sydney Children’s Hospital to be flown by a private charter flight provided by charity organisation Angel Flight straight from Sydney to their remote property, where they were prepared to quarantine.
Last year a baby died, when an exemption to get the mother to Queensland failed to arrive in time. There have been other examples too — people relocating from interstate stuck in limbo, having sold up and packed up their lives, unable to get places in hotel quarantine. Recently a Queensland Policeman was charged with misconduct for allegedly trying to sneak his daughter over the border.
Commissioner McDougall has periodically raised concerns over the Queensland Government’s approach to pandemic management, warning that a public health emergency is not a “blank cheque to override individual human rights”.
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