Gurcharan Singh Kahlon
Sydney, 7 May
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that Australia will lift the travel ban on its citizens seeking to return from epidemic-stricken India next Saturday and the first flight will land in Darwin on the same day. For the first time in the country’s history, Australia has imposed a temporary ban on returning home to its citizens. The government also warned of fines and imprisonment. The government’s decision was strongly opposed. Many MPs, doctors, civil society members and businessmen have condemned the Australian government’s decision. He said that in times of crisis the Australian government was unable to reach its own citizens. The government’s order will now automatically expire on 15 May. Earlier in the day, there was a meeting of the National Security Committee, in which it was decided that the order should not be extended beyond 15. Australia will operate three charter flights from 15 May to 31 May. The first flight will land in Darwin on the 15th, while the ban on direct commercial flights from India will remain in force for the time being. Morrison said the flights would give priority to citizens and expatriates who have registered with the Australian High Commission and consular offices in India. Charter flights will be flown by the Australian contingent and tested for rapid antigens before flying. Three flights will land in Darwin. Later flights will be to Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. Morrison said a three-week ban on flights has reduced cases of infections at solitary centers. He said that 20,000 civilians had already returned from India and the rest would be removed from 15. The Greens Party of Australia has stated that prison terms and fines on citizens entering the country are unconstitutional and against human rights. Leader of the House of Representatives, MP Adam, said he was preparing to raise the issue with the government in a parliamentary session starting next week. A 73-year-old Australian man stranded in Bangalore has approached a federal Australian court through a lawyer to return home.
Modi and Morrison discuss vaccines and drugs
New Delhi: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison today discussed the issue of ensuring equal access to vaccines and medicines. The two also discussed the steps to be taken to achieve this goal. Modi and Morrison also highlighted the importance of a regular and free Indo-Pacific region. -PTI