Former Test cricket opener Michael Slater, who is attempting to return home from a commentary stint in India, whacked the prime minister for locking out Australians.
“If our government cared for the safety of Aussies they would allow us to get home. It’s a disgrace!!” Slater tweeted.
“Blood on your hands PM. How dare you treat us like this.”
Morrison is on the back foot from Australians in India, doctors and human rights groups after the government threatened people dodging the ban with jail and fines.
“No, that’s obviously absurd,” he told the Nine Network on Tuesday when asked about Slater’s comments.
“This is about getting more people home safely, preventing a third wave here in Australia.”
“If our government cared for the safety of Aussies they would allow us to get home. It’s a disgrace!!,” tweeted Slater, who has reportedly made it to the Maldives, where he will wait to come home.
“And those who think this is a money exercise. Well forget it,” he tweeted a few hours later.
“This is what I do for a living and I have not made a penny having left early. So please stop the abuse and think of the thousands dying in India each day. It’s called empathy. If only our government had some!”
The prime minister said the rapid escalation of cases arriving from India put enormous pressure on the quarantine regime but denied it showed the system’s weakness.
“Every system is going to face its stresses and I’m not going to break the system,” he said.
“What I’m going to do is take proportionate action to protect the system so I can bring more Australians home and keep Australians safe for the longer term.”
Morrison has committed to continually review the travel pause which is in place until May 15.
India recorded more than 300,000 new cases for a 12th straight day but medical experts warn the real number could be up to 10 times higher.
With the government attempting to tone down its rhetoric around fines and jail time, Mr Morrison said the powers were at the extreme end of the scale.
“The likelihood of any sanction, anything like that is extremely remote,” he said.
Labor frontbencher Bill Shorten said Slater was saying what a lot of people were thinking.
“Mr Morrison should have created special quarantine facilities here. He’s had 16 months. Michael Slater is just telling the truth,” Mr Shorten told Nine.
The government imposed the ban using biosecurity laws based on advice from Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly, who warned Australians could die in India during the pause.
There are about 9000 Australians in India who want to return home with 650 considered vulnerable.
Australia has provided medical and protective equipment to India, with an extra 1000 ventilators announced on Monday.Jump to next article