Published:October 31, 2021
-The New American
Australians have racked up so many fines for violating their governments’ draconian COVID-19 mandates that the state of Queensland is now threatening drastic action against those who haven’t paid up, including the loss of their bank accounts, homes, or driver’s licenses.
According to the Brisbane Times, Queensland, whose capital is Brisbane, has issued 3,046 fines involving “2755 individuals and businesses accused of flouting the rules during the coronavirus pandemic.” The fines total $5.2 million.
That is hardly surprising given how onerous the rules have been Down Under, observed the Conservative Treehouse:
Get caught too far from home, outside your permitted bubble, and you get a ticket. Get caught spending more than the permitted 1 hour outside, get a ticket. Get caught without a mask, even by yourself — and yep, ticket. Enter a closed quarantine zone (park, venue, etc.) and you get a ticket. Tickets were being handed out by police on the street as well as during random checkpoints on the roadways.
Additionally, people returning to Queensland were put into a system of involuntary quarantine. The costs for that quarantine, mostly hotel rooms, were to be paid by the people being involuntarily captive and not allowed home.
Citizens were required to have their physical location scanned via a QR code on their phone. These checkpoints were to assist in controlling the COVID spread and were used for contact tracing throughout the past two years. However, the checkpoints and gateway compliance scans also registered your physical location; the consequence was an increased ability for police and COVID compliance officers to catch people violating the COVID rules. Ex: If you checked in at the grocery store, they knew how far from home you are, and the police could figure out if you violated your one hour of time outside the home at the next checkpoint.
Add to that the fact that most Queenslanders were forcibly unemployed for months, and the government is stuck with a mountain of unpaid tickets. Only about 56.4 percent of the fines have been or are in the process of being paid; 25.2 percent “were either under investigation or still open to payment without further action being taken,” wrote the Times.
But what of the remaining fines? That’s where the drastic measures come in. The State Penalties Enforcement Register (SPER) is now “undertaking ‘active enforcement’ on another 18.4 per cent of fines, worth about $1 million, which a spokesman said ‘may include garnishing bank accounts or wages, registering charges over property, or suspending driver licenses,’” the paper reported.
So if you got caught violating those ridiculous, unscientific, tyrannical rules and either couldn’t or wouldn’t pay the fine, you could now lose your savings, house, or driving privileges.
Moreover, if you made the mistake of leaving Queensland and returning to it (not that the other Australian states are exactly models of liberty), you are now expected to pay for your mandatory hotel-quarantine expenses.
“Queenslanders rightly expect travelers will pay for their hotel quarantine stays and not leave taxpayers to foot the bill,” a Queensland Health spokeswoman told the Times. Why not force the people who imprisoned innocent travelers to pay instead?
With 2,045 significantly overdue hotel invoices (out of 44,350) totaling $5.7 million still unpaid, Queensland is turning to private debt collectors. Curiously, the Queensland Health spokeswoman “would not say how much commission the debt collectors stood to make under the arrangement, claiming it was commercial-in-confidence,” penned the Times.
Lawpath, a website about Australian law, notes that under the 1982 Freedom of Information Act, claiming commercial-in-confidence privilege concerning a public-private contract “requires an overriding public interest against disclosure, such as a private sector party’s insistence in confidentiality. Otherwise, it is generally safe to assume that a government contract will be, at least partially, open to public scrutiny.” One wonders whether the government, the debt collectors, or both have something to hide.
Fortunately, Queensland is taking action to make sure hotel bills don’t pile up again. In addition to mandating that travelers pay them up front, it will soon be opening its own quarantine facilities, which will enable it to imprison people without due process for as long and as often as it can claim some dire emergency requires it.