London: The Australian government has told the UN high commissioner that blocking an Australian man’s wish to return home to support his mother during her cancer treatment did not cause him “irreparable harm”.
In April, the UN issued an interim ruling ordering the Australian government to facilitate the return of two men who had launched a case to the UN Human Rights Committee, claiming that Australia’s border closures and strict caps on returning citizens were a violation of their human rights.
One of the pair, Jason George, an Australian working in the United States who has been fully vaccinated since March, said that one of his reasons to return home was to support his mother through cancer.
But the Australian government said the UN’s interim order should be overturned because Mr George’s circumstances did not pass the threshold of what is considered harmful enough.
“With regard to the author’s claim that he wishes to support a close family member going through treatment for cancer as well as another family member expecting a baby, and that he owns a property that requires regular attention and maintenance, Australia respectfully submits that the author has manifestly failed to substantiate the harm he would suffer if he were unable to return to Australia immediately and that such harm could be reasonably considered irreparable,” the government said.
George’s visa to work in the United States is due to expire in December 2021, meaning that he needs to return home to renew it, but the government said this was merely a “disagreeable consequence” rather than “irreparable harm”.
“Nor is there any evidence that the consequence is imminent given that his current visa remains valid for another seven months,” the government said.
Australian human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson, QC, of London’s Doughty Chambers is representing George.
“How can the loss of the right to be at her deathbed and comfort her as she dies ever be compensated for in money or called back in any way?” Robertson said.