The Australian government has been attacked and criticised over its decision to ban people trying to return home from India.
Scott Morrison's administration decided to invoke the Biosecurity Act early Saturday (May 1) morning, meaning anyone trying to flee the country to go to Australia in the last 14 days could cop a fine of up to $66,600 and/or a jail sentence of up to five years.
It's devastating news to the 9,000 people who now can't return to Australia.
But the policy has been slammed as potentially racist.
Dr Jagvinder Singh Virk, chairman of the India Australia Strategic Alliance, told the Sydney Morning Herald they were shocked to hear the announcement.
"People are feeling it's racist. What is happening to Australia?" he said. "This is 90 per cent of the people's view: they said if 'real' Australians were there, the Australian government would have sent planes there.
"If there were 10,000 Australians with white skin would they have done the same thing they are doing right now? No."
India is in the grips of a shocking coronavirus wave with hundreds of thousands of people testing positive every single day.
It keeps breaking records for the highest daily increase since the pandemic began and it's showing no signs of slowing down.
In an effort to prevent people bringing coronavirus to Australia, the government banned all flights coming from India to our country.
However, there was a loophole that potentially allowed people to fly to another location like Doha and then proceed to Australia.
In an effort to shut down that loophole, the government made it illegal for anyone to come to our shores if they've been in India in the previous two weeks.
But Scott Morrison has been accused of having 'blood on his hands' for letting the policy go on.
Former Test cricket opener Michael Slater, who is one of the thousands of Aussies trying to return home from India, wrote on Twitter: "If our government cared for the safety of Aussies they would allow us to get home. It's a disgrace!! Blood on your hands PM. How dare you treat us like this."
Responding to the call-out, the Prime Minister indicated it would be very unlikely that anyone trying to break the rules would actually be sent to prison.
"This is a measure which ensures we can keep Australia safe at this time," he said on Sunrise. "This was escalating quickly and we needed to take action to ensure we could get the [hotel quarantine] system back into a place within that fortnight so we could get those repatriation flights running again."
He added no one has been jailed since the Act was updated a year ago.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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