By Nic White for Daily Mail Australia
Groups opposing lockdowns, masks and the police generally rely on a series of dubious arguments that can be easily discredited:
Rules are ‘guidelines’ and not ‘laws’
A common theme in the furious exchanges with the police is that public health orders are invalid because Parliament has never approved them.
They claim that such “guidelines” can only be implemented by “permission” and thus can be ignored at will.
The Public Health and Welfare Act of 2008 is doing empowering state governments and their main health officials to impose restrictions.
Section 200 of the Act explicitly states that they can restrict movement or “direct any other direction the competent official deems reasonably necessary to protect public health.”
These powers come into effect when the state declares a state of emergency, as Prime Minister Daniel Andrews did in Victoria on March 16.
Additional powers come into effect when the state declares a state of emergency, as Prime Minister Daniel Andrews did in Victoria on March 16
Section 193 of the Act provides for the option to stay at home, which Deputy Chief Health Officer Finn Romanes determined on July 22.
This directive also covers the wearing of face masks, as it states that people should only leave their home if they wear one – despite exceptions.
Victoria has also passed its own COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Act 2020 to strengthen these emergency powers.
State of emergency is invalid
Some conspiracy theorists argue that the state of emergency should not have been imposed in the first place.
They quote what they believe are the conditions to be established, including that a deadly pathogen must be present across the country.
Denying the severity of Covid-19, they declare that there is “no deadly virus” in Australia.
The 167 Australians who died of the coronavirus, and their families, would differ.
The police have no authority to execute orders
Many of the videos feature coronavirus deniers who refuse to answer police questions or provide details.
They bizarrely invoke common law with precedence over state law, which is discussed at the end of this article.
Again, the Public Health and Welfare Act of 2008 plays a role as it allows health officials to ask the police for help in enforcing guidelines.
Police officers can usually only ask for someone’s details if they are committing a crime or are reasonably believed to be about to be committed.
But the law extends this to investigate, eliminate or reduce the risk to public health.
The police can also arrest anyone who is considered a “serious public health risk” as long as they are warned that refusal to comply would result in their arrest.
“We will not hesitate to impose fines on people who clearly and shamelessly disregard community safety by not wearing a mask,” the Victorian police said on July 26.
“The police are working incredibly hard to keep the community safe and this kind of behavior is unacceptable and unnecessary.”
The police are violating human rights
Conspiracy theorists regularly refer to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
This doesn’t actually create laws, it’s just a business to preserve and protect human rights around the world.
Citizens’ rights are set out in the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibility Act.
This forces Parliament to balance any violations of human rights, as enshrined in law, and draw up a “declaration of compatibility”.
This balancing act is known as ‘proportionality testing’ and in this case weights people who have to wear masks with the threat of illness and death.
Parliament took this into account when it passed the 2008 Public Health and Welfare Act, and health officials have done the same this year.
Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton even explained on Tuesday that human rights laws establish the right to exercise during the lockdown.
“They have the right to practice within their home and garden, ideally. People who don’t have a garden and have no other option have the right to exercise, “he said.
The Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities is pretty clear that if you don’t give people an option to exercise, you effectively put them in jail and that’s not something that can be done for a case of coronavirus or anyone else for that matter . ‘
Mr Andrews has very little time for human rights arguments, noting that dying from coronavirus is a fairly important right.
“Seriously, one more note on human rights – frankly. It’s about human life, “he said.
“If we continue with this stuff, we’ll be in the Bunnings parking lot reading whatever bullshit you picked up from some dark website …”
Mr. Andrews later apologized for the loss of his composure, but reiterated that the police were doing what needed to be done.
‘[Police] try to be as honest as possible, ”he said,“ but if you make a selfish choice based on your belief, your personal belief, and quote something you’ve read on a website, it’s not about human rights. ‘
Even director of the Human Rights Law Center, Hugh de Kretser, does not cover conspiracy theorists.
“Having to wear a mask in public in Melbourne doesn’t violate human rights,” he said.
“It’s a very small limit on personal freedom for very good reason; save lives and protect public health. There are reasonable exceptions to the rules.
“Those who claim their rights are being violated are wrong.”
Companies discriminate by demanding masks before they enter
Some anti-masks have accused companies of violating anti-discrimination laws by denying them access.
Rob Scott, CEO of Wesfarmers, said he was behind the Bunnings workers in the video
The problem with this argument is that all the other rules surrounding the wearing of masks are not even relevant because companies, at their discretion, have the right to refuse access.
Rick Sarre, an adjunct professor of law and criminal law at the University of South Australia, says Australian companies have the right to require customers to wear face masks.
“Australian law simply says that private landowners or users can take reasonable measures to protect themselves, their employees and people on their property,” he wrote in The Conversation.
“So it would be legal for companies – including cafes and supermarkets – to require customers to wear masks and disinfect their hands.”
Ms. Nash claims she has a medical exemption from wearing a mask, which she never specified.
If she had provided proof of this, the whole situation could have been avoided.
Why these people are dangerous
Associate professor Luke Beck Monash University’s law faculty said the group seemed to be an offshoot of the sovereign citizen movement.
“These people make these kinds of pseudo-legal arguments, usually to try to lift parking fines or pay city fees or something,” he told SBS.
“Some of these people think that if you pronounce certain words or emphasize certain ‘facts’ it will somehow get you out of trouble.”
This is problematic for the functioning society at the best of times, but associate professor Jonathan Liberman of the University of Melbourne said it was downright dangerous during a pandemic.
“These people are trying to encourage others to do things that endanger people’s health and that will ultimately lead to these restrictions going on for much longer,” he said.
“They also promote a rejection of the rule of law and a rejection of a harmonious society.”