Tag: India-Australia

Australian medical supplies on way to India as the Govt. works on plans to resume flights from India

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By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 5 May 2021: Amid mounting criticism of the ScoMo government’s flight ban from India and proposals of jail and fine for those coming, the first batch of medical supplies from Australia to support the fight against the current deadly COVID-19 surge in India, departed today from Sydney in a chartered Qantas flight. The flight carries medical supplies including 1056 ventilators and 43 oxygen concentrators.

These supplies will be distributed by the Indian Red Cross and local authorities, says a media release from the office of Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs & Greg Hunt, Minister for Health and Aged Care.

Minister Marise Payne said that as close friends and strategic partners, Australia and India will stand together during this challenging time.

“India has shown great leadership and generosity to the world in exporting vaccines globally. It is time for the world to repay that generosity and Australia as a close friend of the Indian people is playing its part,” Minister Payne said.

“We express our solidarity and deepest support with India as it responds to this ongoing crisis and recognizes how difficult this time is for Indians and Australians in India and their loved ones.”

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said the Government had offered a significant package of support to the Indian Government.

“We are deeply passionate about supporting people in India, which is why we have reached out to support with medical supplies such as oxygen, ventilators, and PPE,” Minister Hunt said.

“At the same time, we are working on plans to resume travel from India to support Australians to get home.”

Australian Human Rights Commission slams India flight ban as raising ‘serious human rights concerns’

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By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, May 2, 2021: Thew Australian Human Rights Commission has slammed Australia’s inbound flight ban from India as raising ‘serious human rights concerns.

While supporting the continuation of aid to the Indian Government as it copes with the current COVID-19 crisis, the commission holds deep concerns about these extraordinary new restrictions on Australians returning to Australia from India.

It says, “The need for such restrictions must be publicly justified. The Government must show that these measures are not discriminatory and the only suitable way of dealing with the threat to public health.

The Commission urges Parliament’s Senate Select Committee on COVID-19 to review these new restrictions immediately.

The Commission is approaching the Australian Government directly with its concerns.

The Commission has previously provided a detailed analysis of the human rights implications of COVID-19 emergency measures – and what principles are important to consider.”

Australia tightens flight travel ban from India; 5 years jail or $ 66,000 fine, or both for ban breakers

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By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 1 May 2021: After banning inbound flights from India till May 15, Australia has now paused travelers from India entering Australian territory if the passenger has been in India within 14 days of the person’s intended arrival date in Australia. This further tightening and 5 years jail term, a $66,000 fine, or both for those breaking the ban is being seen to lessen the pressure on quarantine facilities in Australia.

A media release from Greg Hunt Minister for Health and Aged Care says, ” The temporary pause follows today’s meeting (30 April) of National Cabinet and was based on advice about the worsening COVID-19 situation in India. The pause will come into effect at 12.01 am on Monday, 3 May 2021.

The risk assessment that informed the decision was based on the proportion of overseas travelers in quarantine in Australia who have acquired a COVID-19 infection in India.”

“Failure to comply with an emergency determination under the Biosecurity Act 2015 may incur a civil penalty of 300 penalty units, five years’ imprisonment, or both.

The temporary pause will be reconsidered on 15 May by the Government following advice from the Chief Medical Officer (CMO). The CMO will consider the epidemiology in India and likely impacts on Australia’s quarantine capacity, and provide a further expert assessment of the public health risk to Australia to inform a proportionate response.”

“While sympathizing with the COVID-hit Indian people, the statement says, ” The Government does not make these decisions lightly. However, it is critical the integrity of the Australian public health and quarantine systems is protected and the number of COVID-19 cases in quarantine facilities is reduced to a manageable level,” the media release says.

Commenting on the Government’s inhumane decision to abandon Australian citizens in India, Peter Khalil, Federal Member for Wills says, “This decision to ban Australians in India from coming home is inhumane and flies in the face of all our values as Australian citizens.

The government’s most basic responsibility is to protect its citizens, and that responsibility doesn’t end at the border.

“All Australians have the right to come home and it’s disgraceful that the government has taken that right away from thousands of our fellow citizens.”

Meanwhile, an epidemiologist told the ABC that the India flight ban shows a ‘lack of confidence by the Scott Morrison government.

In a statement the Subcontinent Friends of Labor (SCFOL, Victoria) Chairperson, Mr. Manoj Kumar says, “We strongly stand in solidarity with Australians stuck in India and demand Australian government to make the necessary arrangements to ensure their health and safety and bring them back safely from India to Australia.

If Australians can’t come to Australia in this difficult situation, then where they will go. Yes, the Australian Government has to stop the virus from spreading in Australia. However, they must show leadership and come with the best alternative solution to protect Australians facing deep trouble overseas. Prime Minister Scott Morrison must come forward to bring back home around 9000 Australians stuck in India.”

Fed govt starting consultations with Indian community amid uncertainty of stranded Australians returning home

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By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 29 April 2021: As the Australian government faces flak from separated Australian-Indian families because of the inbound flight ban from India till May 15, the federal government is starting a massive consultation program of engagements with the Indian community from April 30, 2021.

The flight ban is being seen by many of the thousands of stranded Australians in India as making their return home more difficult. With the raging pandemic in India, an extension of the flight ban is what scares these people.

The consultations are “to hear their views and concerns regarding the evolving COVID-19 situation in India, provide updates, and convey the Australian Government support options that are available,” a media release says.

“In addition, the Department of Home Affairs’ Community Liaison Network will ensure the communication of official information to multicultural communities and provide a mechanism for community members to share information about their priorities and concerns.”

Yesterday (28 April 2021), Hon. Alex Hawke MP, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services, and Multicultural Affairs and Federal Member for Mitchell joined in a Zoom meeting Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs Jason Wood, and more than 140 multicultural community leaders, to discuss Australia’s travel pause with India and the range of assistance Australia is providing at this difficult time.

The meeting discussed many issues, including the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, Australia’s strong social cohesion and what is being done to keep it that way, and pandemic travel restrictions generally.

Uncertainty for 9,000 Australians stranded in India after flight ban till 15 May; support package for India announced

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Australian PM photo grab was taken on 19 April 2021

By SAT News Desk

SYDNEY,27 April 2021: Prime Minister Scott Morrison today at a media conference announced an inbound flight ban from India for two weeks till 15 May and an initial support package to fight the rising COVIDE tide in India. In a nationally televised media conference, PM Scott Morrison said passengers in future flights will require a negative PCR test and a negative Rapid Antigen Test prior to uplift.

Addressing the media the Australian PM said, ” We recognize that this has been a very significant outbreak in India and we know for Australians who have family in India at this time that they will be very distressed. From the scenes we are seeing from India, they are truly heartbreaking.”

Over 9,000 Australians of Indian origin who are either citizens or Permanent Residents are likely to be badly hit by the flight ban. Some people are stranded in India for more than a year and many families are separated. Since March last year, 19,400 Australians have returned from India.

The flight ban will instantly affect two passenger services from India into Sydney and two repatriation flights from India into Darwin impacting around 500 arrivals.

Addressing the media Marise Payne, Minister For Foreign Affairs and Women assured, “…those Australians in India and Indian Australians here that our four Indian network posts remain staffed by Australian diplomats. They will continue to provide that consular assistance to Australians in distress, including through the DFAT’s financial assistance program, and that has of course been in place for many months now. Our posts will also be redoubling their efforts to maintain contact with Australian citizens in India to make sure they are informed about travel settings, any changes and about any changes and about assistance programs. That has been part of their work for many months now, but certainly, in the current circumstances, those efforts will as I said be redoubled.”

The PM also announced passengers on all future flights will require a negative PCR test and a negative Rapid Antigen Test prior to uplift. For indirect flights through Doha, Dubai, Singapore, and Kalua Lumpur flights to and from these transit points and India have already been paused by respective governments.

In a reference to Australian-Indians, the PM said,” …the Australian Government will be reaching out through the Department of Home Affairs directly through the Minister and the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, to engage with the Australian community with Indian descent and reaching out to them, listening to them, engaging in roundtables with community leaders to keep them informed of the information we have available as well as listening to them about what they are hearing on what they are understanding of the experiences of family members and friends and other associates in India. It is very important we remain in close contact with them over the course of what will be a highly stressful period for those Australians who are caught up or have family members affected by this humanitarian crisis in India. And we are very keen to make sure they know that we are standing with them during what is an incredibly difficult time for them and their families and communities.”

Earlier, after the National Cabinet meeting on Friday (23 April) Australia will further restrict outbound travel exemptions to high-risk countries to strictly essential travel only (national interest, medical exemption, and COVID purposes only).

In addition to the flight ban from India, PM Sco Mo today announced an initial package of support to India as soon as possible that includes the supply of 500 non-invasive ventilators,1 million surgical masks, 500,000 P2/N95 Masks,100,000 surgical gowns,100,000 goggles,100,000 pairs of gloves and 20,000 face shields.

In addition, Australia will procure 100 00 oxygen concentrators, along with tanks and consumables for India and the DFAT will manage the movement of PPE and other equipment over the next week.

End COVID For All Campaign spokesman, Reverend Tim Costello Says, ” “COVID is visiting untold misery on the Indian people and it is important for Australia to step up with proportionate, targeted support where it’s needed. Ventilators, oxygen concentrators, protective gowns, goggles, and face shields are on their way to India. This will directly assist nurses, doctors, and health workers to ease and prevent this awful outbreak.

India is a nation with whom we have profound family, cultural and sporting ties. It is heartbreaking to see India battle this outbreak. This support from the Australian people is a good first step and I am confident the Prime Minister will make good on his promise to go further.”