As the Federal Government’s controversial India travel ban comes into effect, conservative commentator Andrew Bolt has blasted the policy.
Bolt began trending on Twitter on Monday after sledging the India travel ban, claiming it “stinks of racism.”
In an article for the , Bolt claimed he hates “people playing the race card” but he is “ashamed of Australia, which is making it a crime for Indian Australians to come back home.”
“To me, it stinks of racism to tell the 8000 Indian Australians trying to come home that they must stay in India, in what Western Australia’s Premier admitted was the ‘epicentre of death and destruction’,” he added.
It was , that Australian citizens and residents failing to comply with the emergency determination under the Biosecurity Act could attract a $66,600 fine or a five-year jail term.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison defended the travel ban on Monday and refuted suggestions that it is “racist”.
"There is a raging pandemic and we need to just continue to take decisions that are in the best health interests of Australia," Mr Morrison told 2GB Radio.
"This is a temporary arrangement – it is being put in place to ensure we don’t get a third wave here in Australia and that our quarantine system can remain strong."
While his most recent comments were widely praised, Bolt is no stranger to controversy.
In 2011, a judge found Bolt breached the over two articles he wrote in 2009. Nine Aboriginal defendants alleged Bolt had implied light-skinned people who identified as Aboriginal did so for personal gain.
Last August, after he argued COVID-19 restrictions should be lifted because they are destroying the economy “to save aged-care residents from dying a few months earlier”.
He was last year after attributing the spread of the coronavirus in Melbourne to multiculturalism.
In his most recent article, Bolt claimed the India travel policy was largely driven by “fear, ignorance and incompetence.”
“What’s more, I fear that more than 600,000 Australians of Indian ancestry will now conclude that they can never be real citizens of this country. That they are outsiders. Not “real” Australians,” he wrote.
The commentator also defended Indian Australians who travelled to India “to help a sick or bereaved parent, or introduce a baby to their grandparents, or go to a funeral or get married.”
“These are Australian citizens. They had to renounce their Indian citizenship to become Australians. Australia is their only country, and has a duty of care towards them,” Bolt wrote.
“I can’t believe we would impose such a travel ban on white Australians fleeing from, say, England.”
A Covid-19 patient who is suffering from breathing difficulty breaths with the help of oxygen mask Source: AAP
Bolt’s column came as Queensland National Party Senator Matt Canavan criticised the government’s position, tweeting, “we should be helping Aussies in India return not jailing them.”
“Let's fix our quarantine system rather than leave our fellow Australians stranded,” he added.
The comments drew praise even amongst the pair’s harshest critics.
“Andrew Bolt thinks the government has gone too far. I’m going to have a lie-down,” one person wrote on Twitter.
“I’m questioning the meaning of life today when Andrew Bolt seems to be the voice of reason,” another added.
“Gosh. Agreeing with Matt Canavan and Andrew Bolt on the same day!!!. More brandy,” wrote another.
On the other side of the political spectrum, Bolt’s views were questioned by some of his supporters, who sided with the government.
“I agree with nearly everything Andrew Bolt says, but not this time,” one Twitter user wrote.
“ScoMo has to protect the 26m of us in Aus & border closure is the only way.”
Around 9,000 Australians in India are with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as wanting to return home, including about 650 who are classed as vulnerable.
India is recording about 400,000 new coronavirus cases each day but the real number of people contracting it is believed to be higher.
Despite the high numbers of those contracting the virus in India, Bolt argued the government should be looking out for Australians.
“It should mean something to be Australian. It should mean that when disaster strikes, wherever you are in the world, Australia will try to save you.”