Scott Morrison – Australia-India travel ban: Scott Morrison weighs into fallout fears
The Prime Minister has addressed fears the contentious India travel ban could affect the key relationship between the countries.
Scott Morrison has dismissed fears Australia’s controversial travel ban could damage the country’s key relationship with India.
A threat to jail or fine returning Australian citizens, who have been in COVID-ravaged India in the past 14 days, has prompted widespread backlash.
The federal opposition has also warned of unintended consequences, saying the ban “flies in the face” of the strong partnership needed to handle an aggressive China.
But the Prime Minister on Wednesday said he was “not concerned”.
“India is a great friend of Australia,” Mr Morrison said.
“There is a partnership effort with India to support them as they deal with this terrible crisis.
“The significant humanitarian support for India has departed Sydney … oxygen containers, masks, respirators.”
Mr Morrison said Immigration Minister Alex Hawke was speaking with Australia’s Indian community as their birth country records more than 300,000 new COVID-19 cases a day.
He said Australia would do whatever it could to support India during their time of need.
“We thank them for their patience, and understanding, and we will continue to work closely with them,” Mr Morrison said.
He again defended the government’s tough travel restrictions, saying the pause until May 15 would prevent a third wave in Australia.
“The pause will enable us to get Australian citizens and residents and their immediate families back on repatriation flights,” Mr Morrison said.
“Without it, we would be eroding our capability to do that over the medium to longer term, so this was a necessary step.”
Labor foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong on Tuesday slammed the government’s response to India’s mass COVID-19 outbreak, saying what Australia does in times of crisis will be noticed.
“We are not behaving a way that I think is consistent with that national interest, which is to have a deep and secure friendship with India,” Senator Wong said.
But a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said: “Australia’s bilateral relationship with India has never been stronger.”
Australian National University economics professor Raghbendra Jha warned India could “rethink” its relationship with Australia if the travel ban dragged on.