'It's horrific': Woman's swipe at PM during question on Q&A

·News Reporter
·3-min read

Scott Morrison's government has again faced scathing criticism over its controversial ban on Australians entering the country from coronavirus-ridden India.

Last night it was from an audience member on the ABC's Q&A program who lambasted the government's "appalling" decision to threaten returning Australians with a $66,000 fine or five years prison.

"First you grant us exemptions to go to India to look after our loved ones who are fighting for their lives, then you abandon us, leave us to die in a country that's gasping for air," the woman said.

The Q&A audience member is pictured.
A Q&A audience member questioned whether the government saw Australians trapped in India as equals. Source: ABC/Q&A

"What kind of government does that to their own people?"

She referenced Mr Morrison's likening of Australia to a "fragrant garam masala" in 2019 and in his proclamation in 2020 he enjoyed having a family curry night on Saturday when he was free. 

"For the prime minister, is the value of Indians reduced to just our food? Or does he see us as equals?" she asked. 

Host Hamish Macdonald then questioned how the travel ban had affected her personally.

"It's horrific. I've got extended family and friends in India and each day we hear stories... what's going on in India is horrible, and to know we're not treated the same as everyone else is just appalling," she said. 

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When Australia will resume taking flights from India

In response, Liberal MP Fiona Martin defended the government's threat of criminal penalties, citing last month more than 40 per cent of people returning from India tested positive to Covid-19. 

"This is based on travel advice and obviously the government wants to resume repatriation flights as soon as possible," Ms Martin told viewers.

On Friday the government confirmed Australia would resume accepting flights from India on May 15.

Inside a Covid hospital in India showing beds full and patients sitting up with masks on and health workers nearby.
Hundreds of thousands of daily cases have pushed hospitals in India to past its breaking point. Source: Getty Images

Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services Linda Burney came to the defence of Australians stuck in India, highlighting that they were citizens and the government's responsibility to keep safe.

Ms Burney also called on an explanation from the government over Scott Morrison claiming the harsh penalties would not be enforced just days after they were announced.

"Why announce them in the first place?" she said, with the audience responding in applause. 

There are estimated to be about 9000 Australian citizens in India subject to the ban.

The Australian Medical Association has urged the government to drop the threat of jail and fines and commit to bring the vulnerable cohort home as soon as the flight pause is lifted.

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