‘Literal evil dystopia nightmare fuel’: Australia’s onslaught of intrusive, freedom-stifling restrictions grows

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In its bid to stamp out the coronavirus, Australia has gone full fascist, embracing civil rights violations so severe they have some calling it “literal evil dystopia nightmare fuel.” The list of violations is extensive, so get ready.

Restricted International Travel

There’s no coming in or going out of Australia without permission.

“Australia’s borders are currently closed and international travel from Australia remains strictly controlled to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs has decreed.

“International travel from Australia is only available if you are exempt or you have been granted an individual exemption.”

Restricted Interstate Travel

According to Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic, interstate travel “is also severely restricted,” in some states worse than others. In the state of South Australia, for instance, the local government is “testing” an app that’ll make it easier to enforce quarantine policies.

“People in South Australia will be forced to download an app that combines facial recognition and geolocation. The state will text them at random times,” Friedersdorf notes.

Once they’ve been texted, people “will have 15 minutes to take a picture of their face in the location where they are supposed to be. Should they fail, the local police department will be sent to follow up in person.”

Suspended Parliament

The state of Victoria went so far as to suspend Parliament during certain parts of the pandemic.

“To put this in context, federal and state parliaments sat during both world wars and the Spanish Flu, and curfews have never been imposed,” the Brookings Institution notes.

Deployed Military

In New South Wales, home to the country’s capital, Sydney, the Australian military was deployed to enforce the government’s lockdown policies.

Meanwhile, New South Wales chief health officer Dr. Kerry Chant issued a statement demanding locals essentially avoid all human contact.

“We all need to work together. We need to limit our movements. We need to consider whenever we leave our house that anyone with us and anyone we come into contact with can convey the virus. So whilst it is in human nature to engage in conversation with others, to be friendly, unfortunately, this is not the time to do that,” she said.

“So even if you run into your next-door neighbor in the shopping center … don’t start up a conversation. Now is the time for minimizing your interactions with others. Even if you’ve got a mask, do not think that affords total protection. We want to be absolutely sure that as we go about our daily lives we do not come into contact with anyone else that would pose a risk.”

Banned Protests

Even dissent is now banned in Australia.

“In Sydney, where more than 5 million people have been in lockdown for more than two months, and Melbourne, the country’s second-biggest city, anti-lockdown protests were banned, and when dissenters gathered anyway, hundreds were arrested and fined,” according to Friedersdorf.

Unrestrained Surveillance

On Aug. 31st, both houses of Australia’s federal parliament passed a draconian bill — one not directly linked to the ongoing pandemic — that would empower law enforcement agencies with virtually unlimited surveillance powers.

“The new legislation extends the power of law enforcement agencies to identify and disrupt suspected online criminal activity through the provision of three new warrants,” The National Law Review legal journal reported.

“The new warrants provide the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission with the power to: Modify or delete the data of suspected offenders (data disruption warrants); Collect intelligence on criminal networks (network activity warrants), and Take control of a suspected offenders’ online account (account takeover warrants).”

Even the U.S. National Security Agency would never dream of having such power.

All these mounting violations raise a significant question as asked by Friedersdorf.

“[I]f a country indefinitely forbids its own citizens from leaving its borders, strands tens of thousands of its citizens abroad, puts strict rules on intrastate travel, prohibits citizens from leaving home without an excuse from an official government list, mandates masks even when people are outdoors and socially distanced, deploys the military to enforce those rules, bans protest, and arrests and fines dissenters, is that country still a liberal democracy?”

Vivek Saxena

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