Community and Greens MPs call for support to partners stuck overseas and immediate lifting of the travel ban.
NRI Affairs Correspondent
Australian Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi and New South Wales Member of Parliament David Shoebridge were joined by representatives of the Indian diaspora in a media conference that called for an immediate end to the Australian Government’s India travel ban.
Sprakers shared the real impacts of the travel ban on Australian residents with family, friends and colleagues in India and how the ban is being perceived by Australia’s Indian community.
Senator Faruqi cal;led the Government’s recent decision to threaten returning Australian citizens with jail time as “absolutely horrific, discriminatory, and racist.”
“Healthcare is a human right. Your visa, citizenship or Covid status shouldn’t change that. Australia should be flying people back home urgently and covering the cost of flights and quarantine. Any sick citizens or permanent residents should also be brought home for treatment.”, Senator Faruqi said, adding that, “We must also do everything we can to provide aid and assistance to India at this time of dire need.”
NSW MP David Shoebridge highlighted the concern that Australian citizens in India were excluded from the Indian Government’s vaccination scheme but were also blocked from coming home, which he called a “deadly catch-22”.
“It is so deeply distressing to the large and diverse Indian community in Australia that their family members can’t get home and that as COVID rages in India they can’t even get vaccinated.” Mr Shoebridge said, adding further that “The cost of flights home is prohibitive as is the cost of quarantine, but the Australian citizens trapped there for the most part cannot work.” He recommended what he called “a repatriation payment made available to citizens so they can get home.”
Meraj Khan – co-founder of social justice group The Humanism Project highlighted the unfair processing time for the partner visas for people in a relationship who had been separated already for several months. “People here are living with survivors guilt, people over there are affected because they can’t get back to their partners. Not one single person back home has not been affected by COVID.”, she said.
Other speakers at the conference were Amar Singh – Founder of Turbans 4 Australia; and Vikrant Kishore – academic, filmmaker and co-founder of South Asians for Inclusiveness.