Aussie minister refuses to rule out electronic ankle bracelets to enforce home quarantine

Photo credit: from Wikimedia Commons by Jérémy-Günther-Heinz JähnickCC-BY-SA 3.0

A senior Australian government minister did not rule out Australian citizens being forced to wear electronic ankle bracelets to ensure they adhere to home quarantine – even if they are fully vaccinated.

The suggestion was initially made by journalist David Speers of ABC TV during an interview with Aussie Employment Minister Stuart Robert.

“I guess one of the concerns about home quarantine is how do you ensure that people stay at home, don’t have visitors at home,” said Speers.

“You can do that at a hotel, but how do you do that with home quarantine?”

“These are the challenges with home quarantine,” replied Robert.

“We saw that in the early days of the Victorian lockdown, and all of that will need to be worked through, David, before a policy prescription goes live.”

“So what sort of ideas would there be for this?”, asked Speers.

“Regular visits, inspections to make sure they’re home, ankle bracelets, some sort of monitoring. How do you do it?”

While Robert did not confirm the use of ankle bracelets, he also did not shoot down the idea.

“Well if you think about it I spent 3 or 4 months in home quarantine as I travelled as a cabinet minister during the pandemic last year…as did a number of my other cabinet colleagues. The police would turn up at random times to our house, they would call or the Department of Health of respective jurisdictions would call – they were some of the measures that were put in place to deal with that exact issue.”

This is not the first time electronic ankle bracelets were proposed for enforcing home quarantine in Australia – the suggestion was first made last October, when Prime Minister Scott Morrison was attempting to figure out how to bring home around 30,000 Australian citizens stranded abroad due to the country’s strict border control measures.

Asked how the government would accomplish this, Morrison said he would allow “experts” develop “innovative” solutions.

When the topic of ankle bracelets came up, Morrison said he would simply “let those experts who are going to work on these options do their job” and not speculate.

“Let them work out what will be most effective and can best facilitate us getting back to a Covid-normal in the future but I expect them to be innovative and think about new ways of doing things,” he said.

Last year the Irish government was criticised for using data from the mobile company Three to track which areas were and were not complying with covid-19 regulations.

In January of this year, UK Conservative Party MP Jeremy Hunt called on the British government to use GPS tracking technology to ensure that Britons were complying with covid quarantine measures.

“Daily contact with those asked to self-isolate – using GPS tracking to monitor compliance if necessary as happens in Taiwan and Poland. People need to know how much this matters and if we cannot persuade them to comply at the outset we should keep trying,” tweeted Hunt.

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