Daniel Andrews defends Victoria's coronavirus curfew amid human rights questions

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has defended the state's coronavirus curfew after a Liberal MP requested an investigation by human rights organisations.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has defended the lockdown curfew, saying the policy is about protecting lives.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has defended the lockdown curfew, saying the policy is about protecting lives. Source: AAP

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has dismissed a Liberal politician's human rights concerns about the state's curfew, saying it isn't about human rights but human life.

But one advocacy organisation says scrutiny of COVID-19 restrictions is welcome and needed, after federal Liberal MP Tim Wilson wrote to two human rights bodies to request an investigation.

The Australian on Thursday reported that Mr Wilson had suggested Victoria's curfew could breach international human rights laws, in emails sent to the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

A post on Mr Wilson's Facebook page described the measure as "unnecessary, disproportionate, unreasonable and unjustified".

But the premier defended the curfew to reporters, saying the state needed to limit movement to limit the number of coronavirus cases.

"This is not about human rights, it's about human life," Mr Andrews said on Friday.

"Police need rules they can enforce. This strategy only works if we limit movement, and the traffic data ... makes it very, very clear that the curfew does limit movement."

He said the government's position on the curfew wouldn't change because it is working.

'If you don't limit movement you won't limit the number of cases, and what everyone wants - to get open and stay open - simply won't happen," Mr Andrews said.

Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius also supported the curfew, saying it had helped keep the community safe.

"There's no doubt that while the curfew's been in place, there's been a reduction in the out-of-control parties, large parties, occurring in city-based apartments or elsewhere in the city," he told reporters on Friday.

"There's certainly been a reduction in movement where really there's no reason for that movement to be occurring if businesses are closed."

The Human Rights Law Centre, however, said scrutiny was welcome and needed.

HLRC executive director Hugh de Kretser said that while government responses to the pandemic had saved lives, it was important they were tested against human rights laws to ensure restrictions weren't any wider than necessary.

“Under Victoria’s Human Rights Charter, the government can restrict other human rights in order to protect life and health," Mr de Kretser said in a statement. "But any restriction must be reasonable, and the government must use the lowest level of restriction to get the job done.

"There are serious questions about whether Victoria’s curfew meets this test.”

The nightly curfew, which applies to Melburnians, is not expected to be lifted until 26 October under the state's recovery roadmap. However, from 14 September it will start an hour later at 9pm and run until 5am. 

Metropolitan Melbourne residents are subject to Stage 4 restrictions and must comply with a curfew between the hours of 8pm and 5am. During the curfew, people in Melbourne can only leave their house for work, and essential health, care or safety reasons. 

Between 5am and 8pm, people in Melbourne can leave the home for exercise, to shop for necessary goods and services, for work, for health care, or to care for a sick or elderly relative. The full list of restrictions can be found here.

All Victorians must wear a face covering when they leave home, no matter where they live.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

Published 11 September 2020 at 7:47pm, updated 11 September 2020 at 9:06pm
Source: SBS News