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Civil liberties groups react with alarm as Australian troops deployed to enforce Covid lockdown

CIVIL liberties groups responded with alarm today as Australia sent troops onto the streets of Sydney to help enforce a Covid-19 lockdown.

Australian Defence Force soldiers have been deployed after a Delta variant outbreak which has led to nearly 3,000 infections and nine deaths.

They will join police in coronavirus hotspots to ensure people are following the rules, with the lockdown expected to last until August 28.

People will only be allowed to leave their homes for essential exercise, shopping, medical and other limited reasons.

State Police Minister David Elliott said it would help because a small minority of Sydney residents thought “the rules didn’t apply to them.”

But the Australian Lawyers Alliance called the deployment a “concerning use” of the army in a liberal democracy.

Others have called for an increased vaccination drive, claiming that restrictions are disproportionately targeting poorer parts of the country’s largest cities.

Local mayor Steve Christou said people already feel “picked on and marginalised.”

“They can’t afford to pay the mortgage, the rent, the food or work. Now to throw out the army to enforce lockdown on the streets is going to be a huge issue to these people,” he said.

Australia’s rate of vaccination — 17 per cent of the adult population — remains one of the lowest among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development nations.

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