Prime Minister Scott Morrison has defended his decision to suspend travel from India , calling claims he has blood on his hands “absurd’.
Australia currently has a biosecurity act in place which means anyone who breaches travel rules by returning from coronavirus-affected India could be jailed or fined.
Today host Karl Stefanovic suggested “threatening your own people with jail and huge fines” was a problem. Mr Morrison said no one had been jailed and it was unlikely anyone would.
“No one has gone to jail,” Mr Morrison replied.
“I think the likelihood of anything like that occurring is pretty much zero.”
Stefanovic later asked: “So you’re saying no-one will go to jail or be fined is that right?”
Mr Morrison replied: “I think it’s highly unlikely. Highly unlikely. In the same way that these powers at their most extreme end have not been used for those sorts of sanctions in the entire time we’ve had these biosecurity regulations in place. So, I think people need to look at this in perspective.”
Mr Morrison reiterated that keeping the country safe was his priority.
“I’m not going to fail Australia. I’m going to protect our borders at this time,” Mr Morrison said.
“We will use the measures we have available. We will use them compassionately and fairly and responsibly as we have demonstrated more than a year with these sorts of penalties and fines which have already been in place to protect Australia.
“If we didn’t do this it would seriously jeopardise our ability to do that over the longer term. So, we’re acting now to ensure that we can do more over a longer period of time for those who remain in India.”
Mr Morrison said it was a difficult decision to make and acknowledged his government would be criticised.
“There have been a lot of difficult decisions during COVID and people will criticise me and my government for it,” Mr Morrison said.
“Australians are living in a way like very few in the world today and there’s a reason for that. It’s because the government has shown the resilience and has shown the foresightedness to make these decisions.”
Mr Morrison said the decision on whether anyone would be fined or charged for returning to Australia would remain with border officials.
Cricket great slams prime minister’s travel ban
Aussie cricket great Michael Slater has unloaded on Mr Morrison, who he says has “blood on his hands”, for the India travel ban.
Taking to Twitter in a sensational post, Mr Slater launched a scathing attack on the government and their decision to ban all repatriation flights from India until May 15.
“If our Government cared for the safety of Aussies they would allow us to get home. It’s a disgrace!!” Mr Slater wrote.
“Blood on your hands PM. How dare you treat us like this. How about you sort out quarantine system.
“I had government permission to work on the IPL but I now have government neglect”.
Mr Slater was in India for commentary duties for the Indian Premier League before he was prevented from returning home to Australia when the country was struck by a devastating wave of the virus.