Sunday, 2 May 2021

Seems fair enough to me.

From the BBC:

Australian citizens returning home from India could face up to five years in jail and fines after the government made the journey temporarily illegal.

The health ministry said the ruling had been made "based on the proportion of people in quarantine who have acquired a Covid-19 infection in India". Earlier this week, Australia banned all flights from India. an emergency situation, the government can make something a criminal offence overnight. At the height of the pandemic last year, the government beefed up its Biosecurity Act to give the health minister near unconditional powers bypassing parliament.

That's why citizens now trying to flee a danger zone can face jail for trying to come home. A legal challenge to this two-week ban will take time and be costly - public outrage and pressure may be the only effective remedy.

As at a year ago, when there was no real expectation of developing vaccines, any government had to choose some balance between the following strategies:

1. Continue as normal, accept that the number of deaths in the next year might double (your chance of dying if you catch covid-19 is approximately equal to the chance of you dying in the next 12 months anyway, and we can assume that within a year, most people would have caught it), ameliorate this as much as possible by temporarily increasing NHS capacity, and hope to achieve 'herd immunity' within a year or so.

2. Shut down the borders and/or have strict quarantine rules for arrivals, and wait for it to all blow over.

3. Impose a lockdown of whatever severity is needed to minimise transmissions and wait for it to all blow over.

If you shut down the borders, then hopefully the internal lockdowns wouldn't need so strict, but Australia ended up having to do both, which has so far superficially worked. Absent a vaccine, this would never have worked long term, it is merely a delaying tactic.

(The UK's response was pretty dumb. Having chickened out of strategy 1 - politically it is OK to do something dumb of every other government is being just as dumb - we left the borders largely open and had to impose correspondingly stricter lockdowns. In terms of deaths-per-million, strain on NHS and economic damage, this was a worse strategy than Australia.)

The Australian government has now decided to close its borders even more tightly, which is fair enough, this is for the benefit of their own citizens and their 'reward' for observing domestic lockdown measures and not going abroad. Flying abroad is tantamount to ignoring the domestic lockdown measures and as a quid pro quo, you can't come back in (to protect those who observed them).

So the bleating about "citizens now trying to flee a danger zone" falls on deaf ears with me, I'm afraid. They went to India voluntarily, so clearly didn't perceive it to be a "danger zone" and if there were no ban on coming back, I'm sure that just as many would be going there today.

Is this racist because it is largely Australian citizens of Indian heritage who are affected? I don't think so. Hopefully, the Australian government would have done the same if a 'white' country had the same high incidence of new variants and infections. (There again, knowing the Australian government, they might not have been quite so draconian with returnees from such a 'white' country).


MrMC said...

A bit like our "asylum seekers" who, once they get a brihish passpor innit, first thing they do is take a holiday back to where they were apparently seeking asylum from.

Bayard said...

And you know that how?

MrMC said...

An example from Germany:

Asylum seekers found returning home to war zones on HOLIDAY
REFUGEES seeking asylum from war and persecution are returning to danger zones on HOLIDAY, German employment agencies has confirmed.

Bayard said...

Ah, the Daily Express, thought it would be something like that, not first-hand knowledge or a source noted for it's unbiased and truthful reporting then? It must be true, it was on the internet!

Mark Wadsworth said...

MC, that's a bit harsh, but yes.

B, I have read too many of these stories for them all to be untrue, and I certainly never read the Express. I stick to BBC, Mail and Guardian.

MrMC said...

?Bayard The same story appeared in many other publications if you could be bothered to look, it was part of Merkels election pledges to crack down on this if you could be bothered to remember, and referrs to this happening in the UK also

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, MC, this is a separate topic. All I'm saying is, India is - Covid-19 aside - a perfectly safe country, it must be or else so many British or Australian citizens of Indian descent (or just tourists) wouldn't visit it regularly.

If such tourists wish to ignore lockdown rules and accept the Covid-19 risk, well fine, that's their personal choice, you shouldn't ban flights OUT OF a country (that's what dictatorships do).

But if the Aus government decides that the risk of returnees spreading Covid-19 among people who have obeyed the lockdown rules is too high, well, that's a reasonable decision.

MrMC said...

MW, yes it is, but it is linked in the sense that it is worth conidering peoples' loyalties to this country sometimes.
All it takes is a little Youtube search to see what happened in Luton when Pakistan won a cricket match and the people in the streets and flags that were flying around a certain area.
There are at least certain potential internal security questions if we were ever to be at odds with certain countries.

Mark Wadsworth said...

MC, well, it's vaguely sort of the same thing, but "Australia's lock down policy" is not the same as the notion of a Pakistani fifth column ready to stage an insurrection if there is ever a UK-Pakistan war.

I lived in Germany for nine years, I'm half-German, but I was still quietly pleased on the odd occasion that England beat Germany at football. That's why I'm not anti-immigrant or anti-immigration - I used to be one (and still half am).

Bayard said...

MC, no I can't be bothered to look, because I know what I will find, a number of cases in single figures of the times when this happened, plus a very strong, but completely unsupported inference that this is only the tip of the iceberg.
So what if it was one of Merkel's election pledges? That just mean that it was an emotional issue that was likely to garner her more votes, it doesn't mean that anything other than the belief it was widespread was actually widespread. Things like this are a godsend to politicians as they know the numbers of cases are tiny and so cracking down on them will be ridiculously easy: "Look, we've thrown out all the asylum seekers who went home on holiday", not mentioning that precisely six or so people have been deported/prevented from returning.