Okay – so I’m happy to believe that requiring people who enter States or Territories to self-isolate for 14 days isn’t actually “closing the border”. When we hear stories that the State borders are being “closed” that is short-hand for medical quarantining.
Movement of people and goods across state borders in Australia is guaranteed by the Constitution. Section 92 of the Constitution says
trade, commerce, and intercourse among the States, whether by means of internal carriage or ocean navigation, shall be absolutely free.
“Intercourse among the States” in this context, means the movement of people, goods and communications across state boundaries.
If movement of people across state borders must be absolutely free, can the states hinder or even prevent such movement during the coronavirus pandemic? The short answer is “yes”.
“Go home,” is the message to non-Tasmanian residents from the state’s Premier, Peter Gutwein.
The island state is effectively expelling nonresidents who are not in self-isolation; they must leave all accommodation by 11.59pm Sunday and return interstate.
“Go home – I’m sorry to say that, but go home,” Mr Gutwein told visitors, via a press conference on Thursday morning.
“There will be some dislocation and difficult circumstances (from this edict) but I make no apology for working hard to keep Tasmanians safe.”
Can a State or Territory summarily expel an Australian citizen from its territory? I wouldn’t have thought so – let’s hear the argument.