Covid 19 coronavirus: Australia defends hard-line stance on India travel ban

Marco Green
May 3, 2021

The harsh rule was announced following Friday's National Cabinet meeting, which decided on a ban of indirect flights from India via Doha, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

Australian citizens returning home from India could face up to five years in jail and fines after the government made the journey temporarily illegal. The decision came into effect on Monday.

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Sydney, Australia, on Tuesday, April 27.

"This is about health, the same accusations were made. over a year ago when we closed the borders to mainland China", he told the radio channel. "There's no politics or ideology in a pandemic, and I am constantly taken aback by those who seek to inject it into it".

The policy marks the first time Australians have been criminalised for returning to their country, local media reported.

There are about 9000 Australians in India who want to return home, including 650 considered vulnerable. "It's important that we ensure that we have a temporary pause here to strengthen those arrangements in those quarantine facilities, get stronger testing arrangements, both when leaving India but also on people coming from third countries". This has left thousands of Australian citizens and residents stranded outside the country, waiting to book an available seat or left to pay exorbitant amounts of money for premium class travel that might be more readily available.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said India arrivals accounted for 57% of positive cases in quarantine, up from 10% in March.

Morrison said this is a temporary arrangement and a very hard decision.

"The friends and family of those in Australia are in extreme risk".

Education Minister Alan Tudge defended the government's approach on Today this morning after WA Australian Medical Association (AMA) President Dr Andrew Miller slammed it as a "complete disgrace".

Members of the Indian-Australian community, which makes up about 2.6% of the population, have expressed anger over the sudden ban.

Legal experts have also raised concerns that the temporary ban violates global law. That includes the right for citizens to not be arbitrarily deprived entry to their country - recognised in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Australia is signatory.

Meanwhile the government is emphasising that the biosecurity measure is temporary in nature, and will be reviewed on May 15.

The situation in India has also put renewed focus on Australia's quarantine system, which has seen more than a dozen infection leaks since November.

From Monday, anyone who has been in India within 14 days of their intended arrival date in Australia will be banned from entering the country.

He apologised to Indian-Australians that he wasn't able to do more to stop the imprisonment and fine powers being used.

"However, it is critical the integrity of the Australian public health and quarantine systems is protected and the number of COVID-19 cases in quarantine facilities is reduced to a manageable level".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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