On this blog I report on developments in the law that affects and applies to emergency management and I give my opinion on questions that people choose to ask on that subject. I am an admitted legal practitioner and have been since 1988 (now 32 years).  I have a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of NSW, a Master of Laws from the University of Newcastle and a PhD from Monash University. I have conducted research on behalf of the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and published numerous books, articles and conference papers on the subject. I think I can rightly claim to be an expert in the area.

The world wide web is a place for the ‘market place’ of ideas; anyone can set up a web page or a social media site to express their views, and those views can range from expert to deranged. I’m all for the principle of freedom of speech and freedom of ideas. People are entitled to hold ideas and to express them and others are free to look for them, consider them and form their own view on the value of what they read. But not all opinions are equal.

On this blog I express my views. Comments on this blog are moderated. They do not appear until I approve them. I have approved most comments (currently 2592 comments have been approved). I’m willing to entertain discussion and to be corrected. People are welcome to argue that I’m wrong and there are plenty of examples on this blog where I’ve amended or corrected what I’ve written on the basis of information and arguments provided by readers. The sort of comments that lead to correction are polite, engage with the argument and are usually referenced or at least coherent.

If you have posted a comment and it has not been approved within a day or two you might infer either WordPress has identified it as spam (which happens occasionally) or I have determined in my absolute discretion that what you have written is unhelpful, abusive, disrespectful, foolish, unintelligible, dangerous, wrong or all of the above. Further, I will not use this forum, or private messaging or email to engage with those ideas. Engaging with some ideas might suggest, to those expressing them, that they are actually saying something that is worth engaging with. Further given this blog is meant to be a law education blog, it may make some readers think the ideas being posited have some merit such that they deserve consideration. Not all ideas do.

So what follows is a general broadcast. People who have written comments can infer whether what follows applies to them.

The law can only be applied to facts. On this blog I cannot test the facts. When a court delivers a judgement the judge or judges outline what facts have been established by the evidence. When people ask a question, they give facts that I accept – my answers are based on the premise ‘If these facts are true, the law says …’

With respect to the current COVID pandemic this blog is not the place to debate the science. It is a law blog not a blog on epidemiology or virology. I accept that there are such things as viruses; there is a virus called Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2; this virus causes a disease called COVID-19 and that COVID-19 is more than the ‘flu. I accept that the governments are acting on informed health advice and the Prime Minister, Premiers and Chief Health Officers believe in the need for the various control measures that are being imposed. If those assumptions are wrong, then of course the legal consequences will be different but there is no value writing to me to dispute those factual issues. The factual issues are out of scope for this blog.

With respect to the law, everyone is welcome to ask me what I think the law has to say. But there is no value commenting to tell me, and others, your ideas about sovereign rights, the primacy of Magna Carta or the Bill of Rights or that being subject to law is a matter of consent. Nor is there value in putting ridiculous arguments with out of context references to ancient law. This is not your forum and your right to hold whatever deranged opinion you want and to express that opinion, does not impose an obligation upon me to publish incoherent rambling.

To conclude, if your comment does not appear it does not mean I think you are right, or that I don’t want to reveal the hidden secret that no-one is bound by the law unless they choose to be. It means I think what you have written is too offensive, non-sensical, incoherent or beyond the scope of this blog to be bothered with, and I’m choosing not to engage so as not to encourage you to think that what you have written is either intelligible or of value.  If you have written three or more comments that have not appeared, you can infer that I have no interest in what you are writing, and you might save everyone the time and effort by not writing again.