Anyone breaking the current ban on travel from India to Australia faces possible penalties of up to five years’ imprisonment, and/or up to $66,000 fine.
This temporary ban took effect on Monday 3 May 2021 and applies to any travellers who have visited India within 14 days of their intended arrival date in Australia.
This temporary ban is in effect until 15 May 2021.
News reports say that the Australian Government said it was following “health advice” by imposing a ban on return flights from India and the tough measures to enforce them.
The Chief Medical Officer says “no advice was given” in relation to the hefty fines and jail terms.
Who is right, and what was actually said?
Josh Frydenberg said “When national cabinet met, it received the most up-to-date briefing from our chief medical officers and their advice is we need to put into place these secure measures with respect to people coming from India to Australia.”
Everyone could be right, except maybe some of the media reports.
The penalties are set in legislation and have been for some time prior to this.
The Chief Medical Officer could not advise on any penalties. Nor could the government act on any advice from him in that respect.
The ONLY question is:
Who should be banned from travelling into Australia?
The object is to stop people coming from India, with its currently very high numbers of COVID infections and deaths, from filling the limited Australian Quarantine system with people with the virus.
Should this be applied ONLY to Indian nationals or should it apply equally to all nationals, including Australians?
To apply it ONLY to Indians might be considered racist.
To apply it to everyone would be more equal.
Yet the media is reporting it as being racist, when it applies to all nationalities, including Australians.
The Chief Medical Officer said “we need to put into place these secure measures with respect to people coming from India to Australia.”
Did he specify only Indian Nationals, or did he leave it open to cover everyone, including Australians?
Is it better to allocate all quarantine places to people from lower risk countries, to ensure fewer cases of COVID enter Australia? After all, the object is to try to stop COVID entering Australia.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly and foreign affairs officials have been putting together a list of high-risk countries for consideration.
National cabinet “noted” Professor Kelly’s assessment that India is the first country to meet the threshold of a high-risk country.
On Sunday 2nd May 2021, the Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne, said that 57% of coronavirus infections detected in quarantine were from India at present. She was responding to a comment that stopping Australians returning from India for a period of almost 2 weeks was racist.
Alan Tudge, the Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, stated that “About 15 per cent of our Howard Springs facility now has COVID in it, and nearly all of that has been from returning Indians in recent weeks.”
Whatever the terms of a travel ban, ANY breach of the travel ban could lead to a maximum of five years’ imprisonment, a $66,000 fine or both, under the Australian Biosecurity Act 2015.
But we all know that maximum penalties are rarely applied in reality.
I have read that these penalties are defined under the Australian Biosecurity Act 2015, which mentions maximum penalties of “at risk of five years imprisonment and/or a $66,600 fine.”
This emergency power has been active since March 2020, and has the potential for unlimited extensions.
Reminder: These are maximum penalties under the act.
Australian Biosecurity Act 2015
A person who fails to comply with a biosecurity measure that the person is required to comply with may commit an offence:
Subdivision C – Miscellaneous, 107
Offence for failing to comply with a human biosecurity control order…Penalty: Imprisonment for 5 years or 300 penalty units, or both.
(A ‘penalty unit’ is $222 under Commonwealth law, 300 penalty units equals $66,600)
Indian Daily COVID-19 reports show:
- 355,828 cases and 3,438 deaths for 3 May 2021.
- 370,059 cases and 3,422 deaths for 2 May 2021.
- 392,562 cases and 3,688 deaths for 1 May 2021.
- 402,110 cases and 3,522 deaths for 30 April 2021.
- 386,829 cases and 3,501 deaths for 29 April 2021.
- 379,459 cases and 3,647 deaths for 28 April 2021.
- 362,902 cases and 3,285 deaths for 27 April 2021.
- 319,435 cases and 2,764 deaths for 26 April 2021.
Due to reporting difficulties in India, these figures may be on the low side.
Experts say those numbers, however staggering, represent just a fraction of the real numbers.
Bhramar Mukherjee, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan said: “From all the modeling we’ve done, we believe the true number of deaths is two to five times what is being reported.“