The Commonwealth’s outbound travel ban is a breach of human rights and has no public health benefit, a conservative non-profit group will argue in a bid to have the Federal Court overturn the decision.
LibertyWorks – a group that professes to support free speech, natural rights and free markets – in December launched a legal challenge to Australia’s travel ban, which on Thursday will be heard by a full Federal Court bench.
The conservative group argues the ban is a “fundamental breach” of human rights, and that Health Minister Greg Hunt does not have the power under the Biosecurity Act to legally enforce it.
Outbound travel without a special exemption from the Department of Home Affairs – with the exception of New Zealand – has been banned for more than 12 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The outbound border could be open within weeks if it wins the case, the group says.
“We are aware of people missing funerals of loved ones, others being unable to leave Australia and care for sick relatives, couples that have been separated and cannot reunite, the birth of children with the father,” LibertyWorks president Andrew Cooper said in a statement on Wednesday.
The group says government-imposed quarantine restrictions on inbound passengers could remain, and argued outbound travellers could be made aware that leaving Australia does not guarantee a right to return.
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties in March also called the federal government’s ban “authoritarian”.
Mr Hunt last month told reporters that slashing outbound travel was important to avoid overloading Australia’s hotel quarantine systems when those people seek to return.
Should LibertyWorks’ legal challenge fail, the outbound travel ban will remain in place until at least June 17, at which point Mr Hunt will have the option to extend it further.
9000+ Aussies are still stuck in India
It comes as a separate challenge to the Commonwealth’s temporary ban on citizens returning from COVID-ravaged India was launched on Wednesday.
Lawyers for Bangalore-based 73-year-old Gary Newman made an urgent application on Wednesday for judicial review of the travel ban, in force since Friday.
Michael Bradley, whose law firm is behind the case, said the minister’s determination under the biosecurity act was invalid.
“It’s not effective in law, and it sets an extraordinary and appalling precedent, and that needs to be challenged,” the Marque Lawyers managing director told ABC on Wednesday.
During a brief hearing, the Federal Court agreed to expedite the case.
A hearing date no later than next Thursday will be announced once an available judge is found.
Share this story