‘Dangerous Precedent’: Military To Enforce Lockdowns In Australia’s Largest City
James D. Morgan/Getty Images

Triggered by a soaring rise in cases of COVID-19 in Sydney, Australia, the local government has enjoined the Australian military to help enforce a lockdown on the population of six million people.

Gladys Berejiklian, the premier of New South Wales (NSW), where Sydney is the capital, stated, “We can only assume that things are likely to get worse before they get better given the quantity of people infectious in the community.”

“Residents there will be forced to wear masks outdoors and to stay within five km (three miles) of their homes. With even tighter restrictions set to begin on Friday, New South Wales Police said it had asked for 300 military personnel to help enforce lockdown orders,” Reuters reported.

“Mick Fuller, police commissioner for the state of New South Wales, said he had asked for 300 SydneyAustralian Defense Force personnel to be deployed ‘to boost [the police force’s] operational footprint,’” Deutsche Welle noted, adding, “At the moment, Sydney residents are only allowed to leave their homes for exercise, essential work, medical reasons and to shop for necessities such as food.”

The Australian Lawyers’ Alliance responded harshly to the news of using the military to enforce the lockdown, on their website, writing:

Calling on the Australian Defence Force to enforce lock down rules in Sydney virus hot spots sets a dangerous precedent so the role of defence force personnel must be clearly defined, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA). “The government must urgently explain the nature of the request to the defence force and outline what defence force personnel will be doing to help manage the response to the virus,” said Mr. Greg Barns SC, spokesperson for the ALA.

“We understand that public health emergencies require the government to take extraordinary measures but using the military to enforce local laws sets a dangerous precedent. Using the defence force to ensure compliance by Australians or to deter civil disobedience is a concerning use of our armed forces. The role of any police or enforcement agencies should be help meet the needs of residents so they don’t have to break the rules.”

“The state police minister, David Elliott, said an ‘overwhelming number of people had had a gutful’ of their fellow residents doing the wrong thing, as shown by the number of calls to Crime Stoppers. State police commissioner, Mick Fuller, said there had been 15,000 complaints to the reporting hotline,” The Guardian reported.

NSW’s health minister Brad Hazzard said unvaccinated people were “extremely selfish,” adding, “I would say even more than that, what a ridiculous position is that when you are going to put health staff at risk and when you get sick, you are going to expect to come into hospital and get paid for by taxpayers. It is time for those who actually think that way to wake up, including commentators who actually don’t base their commentary on logic whatsoever.”

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