Australians could be subject to a ban on large scale public events and curtailed movements if there is a surge in coronavirus cases.
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee is currently discussing whether some mass public meetings such as sporting and entertainment events should be cancelled.
Speaking to the Australian Financial Review, Attorney-General Christian Porter said the federal government may be forced to use unprecedented powers on limiting people’s movements and suspending public events if it felt biosecurity control orders were necessary to counter a steep spike in coronavirus cases.
“In certain circumstances, potentially if people were declining to abide by the conditions of a control order, some forms of detention are available,” Porter said.
“It is not inconceivable that those might be activated. There are a range of powers available that were designed specifically to handle something as serious as a pandemic.”
Porter warned that laws passed by Parliament in 2015 meant the government had the power to force sanctions or even arrest people who defied control orders in the face of a growing pandemic.
“Australians want to have the health of their community and the health of their family, and their own health, protected as best and in the least invasive way possible,” Porter told the AFR.
“People will adapt very quickly, because ultimately these laws are designed to promote the health and safety of Australians and their families.”
The warning comes as South Australia’s parliament prepares to vote on new laws to detain and quarantine people who are thought to be at risk of spreading the coronavirus.