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Legal concerns about the emergency powers exercised under COVID-19

By Andrea Tokaji - posted Wednesday, 11 August 2021

As a refugee child from a Communist Dictatorship Regime, a lawyer, law lecturer, human rights advocate and lobbyist, I've had some legal concerns in relation to the current lock-downs.

I would like you to consider the following legal questions and use them as a point of research and information you can use in your own conversations, lobbying endeavours and human rights advocacy in your own communities.

Here are some of my human rights legal concerns:


1. Our Constitutional Democratic Rights

Given my rights as a Citizen of Australia, a constitutional democracy, our parliamentarian's job is to represent my views in parliament according to jurisdictional delegation of section 51 to section 60 of the Australian Constitution. This means that I have the right to consider any and all legislation before Parliament and give them my opinion on these laws.

I have concerns about how the Emergency Powers are being used here in WA.

2.Constitutional Right to Free Trade and Commerce

Section 92 of the Constitution is clear: trade, commerce and intercourse between the States shall not be restricted - on any grounds. Equal consideration needs to be given to Section 104 of the Australian Constitution here. Restricting trade and commerce between the states within Australia is a violation of our right to freedom of movement within the ICCPR and as per the international legal principle of state sovereignty. For far too long now, small and family businesses have been economically affected by lock-downs.

Of course, if the High Court would have been willing to hear his matter, we may now have a case law precedent on the matter.


Section 122 of the Australian Constitutiondisallows a conflict between State laws and Federal laws. Therefore, Federal law takes precedent over state-based laws.

What will you do to ensure these lock-downs no longer occur in violation of our Constitution, and no longer cripple our small and family businesses?

3. The Biosecurity Act

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About the Author

Andrea Tokaji is a lecturer in Business and Law at Sheridan, Perth, and is a trained international human rights lawyer.

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