Human rights

Queensland Human Rights Commission Inundated With Investigations Over Covid Border Confusion | Queensland

Queensland Human Rights Commissioner Scott McDougall said the commission had received a spike in investigations due to confusion over a lack of details on the state’s Covid border rules.

McDougall said that in recent weeks since the Queensland government announced plans to reopen the state border, more than a third of investigations have focused on Covid issues as a lack of details had “Created a vacuum where disinformation can spread”.

“We are very aware of the confusion and lack of clarity for people trying to understand our plans to reopen the borders,” McDougall told Guardian Australia.

“Since they were first announced a few weeks ago, Covid issues have been the subject of more than a third of all our inquiries – sometimes as high as 40% – and almost all are related to restrictions after the reopening of borders.

“Last year, Covid issues made up about 16% of our requests, so it’s a big change.”

The state government’s border plan “to unite families” is not a public health orientation. Queensland Health said last week that it was a “guide”. The situation has created uncertainty for people considering entering Queensland and for companies trying to circumvent rules prohibiting unvaccinated people from entering various premises.

“Without a published health guidance to accompany the government’s announcement, meeting the obvious demand for information has been a real challenge for us,” McDougall said.

“Because we don’t have the details of how the requirements will be enforced, if there will be any exceptions and how people might look for them, and what obligations will fall on companies.

“I really sympathize with the business owners who are trying to navigate this area for the border reopening. It’s incredibly difficult for them to know what their responsibilities are to their staff and customers and for them to make the necessary preparations – or even know if they need it – without the details being available.

“The lack of detail on how the restrictions might apply not only confuses people, it also creates a vacuum where disinformation can be spread – not always by people with the right motives – and is overwhelming. chances of settling, what I believe is what we see in parts of Queensland and between the states ”

The Queensland Human Rights Commission has asked the government to publish the reasons for the health guidelines, including supporting evidence.

“It would dramatically increase confidence in government if it were available,” McDougall said.

“Incorporating this stuff into primary legislation would also help. This is what the Victorian government is trying to do right now, and there is obviously a strong reaction to that from some parts of the community, but what it would actually do would be to increase transparency and accountability. accountability, and to create an obligation for many to have a more rigorous review of human rights than currently exists.

“A more robust human rights analysis of some of these measures would also help find more appropriate and responsive ways of enforcing the restrictions.

“When it comes to things like this, they have to be balanced and proportionate, but neither can they be applied as a rule of thumb, one size fits all.”

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’ath admitted on Friday that there had been some confusion over whether people attempting to enter Queensland should pay $ 150 for a proper test after the The state has reached 80% double vaccination.

D’ath said the borders were going to be opened “very, very soon” and fully vaccinated people who returned a negative Covid PCR test would be allowed entry.

“We can’t just open up [up the] valves to say that anyone can come in, ”she said.

“At 80%, 20% of our population is not vaccinated, and that does not include our children. “