A group of Australian citizens has accused the government of racism over a ban on arrival from India, where the second wave of COVID-19 has created an unprecedented health emergency.
The group which has criticized and opposed the government’s decision includes Indian, human rights advocates and members of the government.
Advising the government on its priorities, Matt Canavan, the government senator, said that it should focus more on improving the quarantine system than to leave Australian citizens stranded.
“We should be helping Aussies in India return, not jailing them,” he said
“I can’t believe we would impose such a travel ban on white Australians fleeing from, say, England,” Andrew Bolt, the conservative newspaper columnist, said in an article.
“The need for such restrictions must be publicly justified. The Government must show that these measures are not discriminatory and the only suitable way of dealing with the threat to public health,” the human rights commission in Australia said in a statement.
The travel ban has come into effect from today May 3, 2021. During the travel ban, people who have been to India in the past 14 days would not be allowed to enter Australia. The government has already announced five-year sentences for those who violate this temporary travel ban.
Announcing the government’s decision, Greg Hunt, the Health Minister of Australia, said those who violate the new travel restrictions would face five years’ imprisonment, a fine of $66,600, or both.
“The Government does not make these decisions lightly,” Hunt said in the statement.
“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,” he added.