Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday was defensive about the decision enforced by the government of ban and then further impose a jail term and fine for Australians who are attempting to return back from India, iterating it as coming for the best interests and to curb the third wave of Covid-19 infections.
For the first time, Australian government has enforced a ban on its residents who want to return back if they are spending around 14 days prior to flying back. The government has threatened of prosecuting them with a jail term period of five years or a fine of 66,000 Australian dollars.
Morrison termed it as a temporary arrangement amid this situation of crisis and it is a difficult conditions.
He said, “It has been put in place to ensure that we do not get a third wave here in Australia and that our quarantine system can remain strong,” further added that it is in the country’s best interests.
He expressed empathy for the Indians in the community who are in the crisis. He said, “We’ve seen a seven-fold increase in the rate of infection of those in our Howard Springs facility coming back from India.”
He further said, “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.”
He mentioned he wants to get those repatriation flights operating further with adequate safety.
In an interview with 2GB Radio channel, Morrison said, “These are the things we have to do to ensure I can do that, so I can. We’ve already brought home some 20,000 people from India through supported flights and facilitated flights, and they were just those who are registered. And so that has been a big effort to get people home.”
He further added, “We’ve had the Biosecurity Act in place now for over a year and no one’s gone to jail… there hasn’t been any irresponsible use of those powers.”
Morrison’s decision was highly criticized by Opposition leader Anthony Albanese as he said, “Australia has obligations to our citizens, to people who are Australians – not just to abandon them overseas but then to threaten them is quite an extraordinary action.”
Deputy Nationals leader Matt Canavan tweeted, ” “We should be helping Aussies in India return, not jailing them.”
To which, Morrison said, “this only needs to be there in place for as long as it needs to be there to keep Australians safe.”
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