Australians stuck in India are not being left to the mercy of the world’s worst COVID-19 outbreak, despite new jail terms and massive fines for those seeking to return from India, the treasurer says.
Returning citizens who have been in India in the past two weeks will be threatened with the prison sentence or a $66,000 fine.
The law, the first in Australia’s history making it illegal for citizens to return home, comes into effect from Monday and will be reviewed on May 15.
But Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Saturday rejected the suggestion the government was abandoning around 9000 Australians in India, which has suffered oxygen and medical shortages as it grapples with the world’s worst COVID-19 outbreak.
“We have taken drastic action to keep Australians safe,” he said.
“(But) this is a temporary measure … The situation in India is dire and very serious, and we need to take and act on the medical advice that was provided to us.”
Mr Frydenberg said Australia’s plan to ship oxygen and medical equipment to India was the “best thing to do” to ease the crisis.
The treasurer also rejected suggestions the move showed a lack of confidence in the nation’s quarantine system…