Bans and Fines For Returning Travellers From India | Members Statement

Ms VAGHELA (Western Metropolitan) (12:57): As most of you know, India is currently facing a significant COVID-19 crisis. Each day thousands are dying, and new positive cases are being diagnosed daily. Many Australian Indians have lost their loved ones. Personally I have lost two of my close family members and another is in ICU. I feel helpless, along with many Australian Indians. I send my condolences to all those who have been impacted by this virus.

The coronavirus pandemic of this magnitude cannot be tackled alone. We must support India and those Australian citizens in India during this catastrophe. Many Australian Indians are horrified by the announcement of the new travel ban and fine or jail term. Some consider it racist as such bans or fines were not imposed on returning travellers from the US or the UK and they were not treated like second-class citizens. The Australian Human Rights Commission has also expressed its concern for the sanctions. We support the measures taken to temporarily restrict flights from India and other high-risk countries in addition to pre-flight testing. I understand those decisions are made to protect Australians from the spread of the virus in Australia and that the government is trying its best to keep Australians safe from the coronavirus in Australia.

This issue only highlights the need for us to have access to the best possible quarantine model available to us so we can have Australians returning home safely. Taking criminal action against Australian citizens trying to return home was not a decision of national cabinet; it was a decision of the federal government. I hope the Australian government explores all options possible to safely bring back Australians currently stuck in India on the basis of the health advice. I hope Australia continues to provide aid and that the Victorian government also provides support to India. Stay strong, India. Victorians are with you. Our prayers are with you.