Melbourne woman who lost both parents to Covid backs India travel ban

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A Melbourne woman who lost both her parents to Covid in India within days of each other is backing the Australia’s ban on citizens returning home.

Rupali Jetiley, who has family in Mumbai, has endorsed Scott Morrison‘s controversial policy after conservative commentator Andrew Bolt accused the Prime Minister of racism.  

‘I definitely don’t think it is racist,’ she told the ABC’s 7.30 program.

‘Yes, I would say that the ban is fair. 

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‘I would 100 per cent support the government, Australian government, because what Australian Government is doing is not to punish them, it’s basically saving our country people.’

Ms Jetiley, who has lived in Melbourne for 15 years, lost her mother to Covid only a fortnight ago, with her father dying only a few days later.

Rather than fly to India, the grieving daughter watched the cremation of her parents on videos relatives had sent to her.

India, the world’s second most populated nation after China, is suffering from a humanitarian crisis with 300,000 new daily Covid cases for the past 12 days, taking the total close to 20million.

Despite the risk of returned travellers, Bolt has slammed the government for banning Australian citizens from coming back from India. 

‘We have a sacred duty to protect Australians, the people of Australia,’ he told Sky News.

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‘And for the Indian-Australians stuck in India unable to escape, unable to come home to a decent healthcare system here if they’re ill, I think is a shame on this country.’

In his Herald Sun column, Bolt accused the government of racism. 

‘I hate people playing the race card. But even I must now say I am ashamed of Australia, making it a crime for Indian Australians to come back home,’ he said.

Australian citizens returning to India face fines of up to $66,600 and five years’ jail under an emergency midnight declaration by Health Minister Greg Hunt on Saturday.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly wrote a letter to Mr Hunt expressing his ‘grave concern’ for Australians and permanent residents unable to get home.

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‘These include the risk of serious illness without access to healthcare, the potential for Australians to be stranded in a transit country, and in a worst-case scenario, deaths,’ he wrote in correspondence that will be read in Parliament on Tuesday.

Under the Biosecurity Act of 2015, the federal government can force Australians into mandatory quarantine during a pandemic.

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Whether Australian citizens can be banned from entering the country is a matter that may have to be tested in the High Court.


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While Australians have, since March 2020, been banned from travelling overseas for a short holiday, the federal government didn’t ban Australian citizens from returning directly from the US, UK, Brazil and South Africa when daily case numbers were in the thousands, including with more virulent strains. 

Australian cricketing legend Michael Slater has gone further and accused the PM of having blood on his hands.

‘If our Government cared for the safety of Aussies they would allow us to get home. It’s a disgrace!! Blood on your hands PM,’ Slater, who played 74 tests for Australia, tweeted.

‘How dare you treat us like this. How about you sort out quarantine system. I had government permission to work on the IPL but I now have government neglect.’

Slater, 51, was working in India as a commentator during the Indian Premier League but has exited the country to wait out the mandatory two weeks in the Maldives.

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