Cricketers to escape India
Australia’s cricketers will escape the worsening Covid-19 situation in India by flying to Sri Lanka or the Maldives before taking a chartered flight home once the government’s controversial travel ban is lifted.
Cricket Australia and the players’ union said on Wednesday they were working on arrangements to repatriate the cohort of 38 players, coaches and staff who remain in India as quickly and as safely as possible.
CA CEO Nick Hockley said:
What we and the BBC are working to do, and they’ve been incredibly cooperative, is to move the entire cohort out of India, where they will then wait until it’s possible to return to Australia.
The BCCI has been working on a range of options. That’s now narrowed down to the Maldives and Sri Lanka. The BCCI are working through the final details of that at the moment and we expect that movement will happen in the next two to three days.
Coach Mike Hussey, who has tested positive for the virus, will have to remain in India to see out his period of quarantine.
Former Australian Test cricketer Stuart MacGill was allegedly kidnapped and held against his will for an hour last month, but did not immediately go to police out of “significant fear” for his and his family’s safety.
NSW police said on Wednesday that four men, including a 46-year-old known to MacGill, have been arrested following an investigation into the incident on Sydney’s lower north shore on 14 April.
Detective acting superintendent Anthony Holton said NSW police believed MacGill may have been targeted for financial reasons, although no ransom demand was made.
“We think it [the motive] was purely financial – he was seen as someone they could get money from, although no money was paid prior to him being released,” Holton said.
MacGill, who played 44 Tests and took 208 wickets between 1998 and 2008, was allegedly confronted by a man in Cremorne around 8pm before two other men appeared and MacGill was forced into a vehicle.
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Professor of global security at UNSW, Raina MacIntyre, has used mathematical modelling to determine the effectiveness of a range of Covid-19 vaccine strategies.
Published in the medical journal Vaccine, it says because vaccine supply is limited, the government has adopted a targeted approach, vaccinating the most high-risk and vulnerable first, to make the most of the limited supply.
The study found while this approach is effective at reducing deaths from Covid-19, it ultimately will not mitigate an epidemic scenario should an outbreak occur. The best exit strategy from the pandemic will be mass vaccination to achieve herd immunity, the study says.
A limited supply requires a targeted strategy where particular populations are prioritised.
We show that for a population of 7.5 million people [ie, NSW], if faced with an epidemic and an initial restriction in vaccine supply, sustained epidemic control cannot be achieved by this smaller, targeted vaccination strategy.
Other non-pharmaceutical interventions, such a face mask use, physical distancing, and limits on the movement of people through travel, will need to continue to mitigate any outbreaks.
The study shows that ultimately, adequate and effective vaccine supply coupled with rapid delivery is the only way to prevent sustained transmission in the community, and also improve prospects for economic recovery by removing the need for ongoing social restrictions.
While our model shows that a targeted vaccine strategy can still reduce illness and death from Covid-19 – it is clear that a mass vaccination strategy would be far more effective at controlling disease.
Encouragingly, our model suggests that herd immunity can be achieved in states like NSW by vaccinating two thirds of the population with a high efficacy vaccine.
Earlier the health minister, Greg Hunt, was asked about the federal court legal challenge.
“I won’t comment on specific cases before the courts. More generally, I spoke about this earlier in the week before there was a case … I made a statement two days ago – I was crystal clear in relation to that. We always exercise these with absolute caution and full processes, and that’s what we’ve done right throughout.
On Monday, Hunt said the government was of the “strong, clear, absolute belief” the India ban is legal.
Federal court to expedite India travel ban challenge
The federal court has completed its urgent case management hearing in just under 10 minutes.
Christopher Ward, appearing for the applicant Gary Newman, said the case relates to a 73-year-old man resident in Bangalore who wishes to return to Australia but is prevented by health minister Greg Hunt’s determination banning people who have been in India in the past 14 days from entering Australia.
Ward said that there are broadly four grounds of challenge: two relate to statutory interpretation; the third relates to “proportionality and reasonableness” and the fourth is constitutional.
Ward asked that the first two be heard separately first, and then the other grounds later because they require “more substantial evidence and preparation”.
The applicant and respondent had come to court with agreed orders. Justice Stephen Burley said the court would need to find a judge to hear the case urgently.
Burley ordered that proceedings be expedited, and agreed that the first two grounds should be heard separately. The case will be listed for a final (one day) hearing on a date to be notified to the parties in the next 24-48 hours.
While we wait for the 3pm federal court hearing, it’s worth a quick recap of the legal arguments against the India travel ban from this explainer published on Monday.
There are two ways the travel ban could be challenged: first, on the basis the determination is unlawful because it breaches safeguards in section 477 of the Biosecurity Act; or secondly, that it is unconstitutional.
Both Melbourne University’s Prof Cheryl Saunders and Sydney University’s Prof Anne Twomey have suggested the former is the better argument.
Saunders said a plaintiff could argue the ban was disproportionate and therefore failed the test of being “no more restrictive or intrusive than is required in the circumstances”.
“There is also a question about whether the legislation or the determination is apt as it applies to citizens,” Saunders told Guardian Australia.
She said a plaintiff could argue the law needed to be more explicit if it was intended to allow Australians to be barred from entering Australia and the “pretty extreme” penalties could support the view it didn’t.
Twomey said any challenge was most likely to turn on whether the health minister could “reasonably be satisfied” of the requirements – including that the ban was effective, appropriate and adapted to its purpose and no more intrusive than necessary.
Twomey said a constitutional case would have to clear two hurdles: first, establishing that citizens have an implied right to enter Australia; and secondly, whether that right was absolute or could be qualified to protect public health.
The federal court has informed us that the applicant will be represented by Christopher Ward, Phillip Santucci and KA Morris.
Legal challenge to India travel ban filed in federal court
Michael Bradley, the managing partner of Marque Lawyers, has told Guardian Australia there will be a hearing in the federal court at 3pm to ask for an urgent hearing of a challenge to the India travel ban.
There’s already a court file for the case – Gary Newman v Minister for health and aged care – which Bradley said relates to a 73-year-old applicant who has been in India since early March 2020 and wants to come home.
The case will seek to argue both that the travel ban breaches the constitution and the requirements of section 477 of the Biosecurity Act.
The health minister, Greg Hunt, has just been asked about the urgent hearing, before Justice Burley at the federal court in Sydney.
We’ll be attending the case and have updates through the afternoon.