Australian former cricket star Michael Slater said Prime Minister Scott Morrison has “blood on his hands” over the travel ban between India and Australia that came into force on Monday.
Australia has threatened to jail anyone entering the country who has been in India in the previous 14 days, including its own citizens. Travelers could face up to five years in prison and fines of up to 66,600 Australian dollars ($51,500).
In a Twitter post Monday, Slater said: “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. How dare you treat us like this. How about you sort out quarantine system.”
Slater was in India working as a commentator for cricket’s Indian Premier League when the ban came into place, according to CNN affiliate Seven News.
The new measures have been met with widespread outrage from human rights activists, Indian Australians and even politicians in Morrison’s own party.
One prominent conservative columnist said the ban “stinks of racism.”
PM’s reaction: Morrison told Australia’s Nine Network it was “absurd” to say he had blood on his hands.
“We’ve got a temporary pause in place because we’ve seen a rapid escalation in the infection rate in people who have traveled out of India that is putting enormous pressure on our system,” he said.
Facing criticism over his new measures, Morrison said there was “pretty much zero” chance of any Australians actually being charged under the ban.
“We’ll use the measures we have available, we’ll use them compassionately, and fairly, and responsibly, as we’ve demonstrated for more than a year,” he said.
Tough entry measures: There are around 9,000 Australian citizens in India registered as wanting to return to Australia, according to the federal government.
Only Australian citizens, permanent residents and those travelling from New Zealand can enter Australia, with few exceptions. All arrivals must spend 14-days in state managed quarantine on entering the country.