According to Scott Morrison, it’s the media’s fault for focusing on the punitive elements of his travel ban.
This morning, Scott Morrison has publicly claimed that it is the media’s fault for highlighting the potential gaol time and fines that Indian-Australians face if they try and return home. 3AW’s Neil Mitchell asked the Prime Minister: “I would argue you’ve perhaps made a mistake in emphasising punishment which is what happened. Would you agree that was a mistake?” In response, Morrison said, “we didn’t, but the media did.”
Which isn’t actually true. Per a media release on April 30, issued by Greg Hunt, the Minister for Health and Aged Care: “Failure to comply with an emergency determination under the Biosecurity Act 2015 may incur a civil penalty of 300 penalty units (which equates to $66,000 – Ed), five years’ imprisonment, or both.”
After Mitchell highlighted this point, Morrison said: “There was simply a statement of what the Biosecurity Act does as a way of fact, this is not something that was accentuated by Greg Hunt or me or anyone else. It was picked up on (sic) in the media and they’ve highlighted that. But as I’ve said it’s highly, highly remote that the extremes of those sanctions would apply in these circumstances because they’ve been in place for 14 months and no one’s been to jail.”
The delusion is certainly real. Clearly, it’s the media’s fault for accurately reporting a government provision, but clearly, whether they enforce it (or not) is the issue that should be the focus. The people who haven’t gone to gaol, those who still might, but probably won’t. What?
Health commentator and GP Vyom Sharma thought the decision “incredibly disproportionate to the threat that it posed.” Sharma is certainly correct on this score in terms of international law, which requires the least restrictive or least intrusive way of protecting citizens.
As Dr Binoy Kampmark noted, “Then there was the issue of the previous policies Canberra had adopted to countries suffering from galloping COVID-19 figures. A baffled Sharma wondered, ‘Why is it that India has copped this ban and no people who have come from America?’ Former race discrimination commissioner Tim Soutphommasane seconds the suspicions. ‘We didn’t see differential treatment being extended to countries such as the United States, the UK, and any other European country even though the rates of infection were very high and the danger of its arrivals from those countries was very high.'”