Indian-Australians split from Annastacia Palaszczuk family’s offensive Covid-19 border comment

Indian-Australians separated from their families during the Covid-19 pandemic are upset and insulted after Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk defended her hard-line border stance by picking out India.

The prime minister said on Thursday she would refuse to open her state’s borders even if 80 percent of people over 16 have been vaccinated, and rejected the federal government’s plans to restart international travel before Christmas.

‘Where are you going? Are you going to India?’ she said sarcastically.

India faced a massive Covid-19 outbreak in April and May with a peak of 4,000 deaths a day, leading families to cremate their loved ones on the streets as morgues and hospitals flooded.

Umesh Chandra, chairman of the Queensland Multicultural Council, said Ms Palaszczuk’s comment was inappropriate and offensive to the 53,100 Indians living in Queensland.

“The comment mentioning one country is insulting and was not well received by our community,” he told the Daily Mail Australia.

Just a few months ago, Ms Palaszczuk donated $2 million to support Red Cross efforts to fight the Covid wave in India in May

“You have to be careful and sensitive about our community, where there are so many people who want to go to India and wait for people from India to come here.

“Parents and children have been separated from their families for so long and when they hear such a comment it is very sad.”

Mr Chandra said his phone was flooded with text messages as soon as Ms Palaszczuk made the comment during a Covid press conference.

President of the Multicultural Council of Queensland, Umesh Chandra (left)

President of the Multicultural Council of Queensland, Umesh Chandra (left)

“I’ve had texts and phone calls saying ‘did you hear that,'” he said.

“An apology would be in order, whether it would come is another matter.”

Shyam Das, chairman of the Federation of Indian Communities of Queensland, also said it was unfair to single out India, which registers about 30,000 Covid cases a day, a similar number to the UK and four times fewer than the US.

“Everywhere has the same problem, why choose India,” he said.

“Everyone wants to go abroad to see their family, we want the drill to open and people to be able to travel freely.

“If people want to take their own risk and travel, where’s the problem?

“People want to see their loved ones, I have a family in India and I want to go there too,” he said.

Mr Das said the comment contradicted the Queensland Government’s $2 million donation to support Red Cross efforts to fight India’s Covid wave in May.

“Not long ago she was the one handing out money to help,” he said.

At a ceremony on the steps of Parliament to unveil the donation in May, Mr Das had told the Prime Minister: “The Indian community greatly appreciates all your support.”

A spokeswoman for Ms Palaszczuk dismissed the concerns of the Indian community.

“She made the point about countries with high cases, if… [Mr Chandra] is so upset that he would write a letter to the government. We’ll leave it at that,” the spokeswoman said.

Australia’s SmartTraveller website is urging residents not to travel to the country. There are fears that thousands of Covid cases will go unrecorded, especially in rural areas.

According to Johns Hopkins University dataIndia has suffered 9,683 Covid deaths in the past 28 days, while the US recorded 48,034, Brazil 15,671, the UK 3,638 and Japan 1,667.

Queensland Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk (pictured) says she will ignore the national cabinet agreement and want to keep borders closed even after 80 percent vaccination coverage is reached

Queensland Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk (pictured) says she will ignore the national cabinet agreement and want to keep borders closed even after 80 percent vaccination coverage is reached

Ms Palaszczuk said tourist spots like the Gold Coast would decline if the state reopened under the national cabinet plan (pictured, Queensland border at Coolangatta)

Ms Palaszczuk said tourist spots like the Gold Coast would decline if the state reopened under the national cabinet plan (pictured, Queensland border at Coolangatta)

Prime Minister Palaszczuk’s Comments on Thursday

On the national roadmap:

‘If you look at the national plan, we have actually deteriorated with that 80 percent. So I don’t want that for Queensland.’

On trips abroad:

‘Where are you going? Are you going to India? In Tokyo you have to sit in perspex screens with masks on and if you take off your mask you can’t talk while you chew.’

On domestic trips:

“Queenslanders would probably enjoy more freedoms to travel around Queensland than they would if they got on a plane and went to Tokyo.”

When opening for Christmas:

‘In NSW you have a huge Delta outbreak, so you should ask the NSW government what their plan is for Christmas?’

About freedoms:

“Right now, the people of Queensland have more freedom than the Victorians if they are 80 percent vaccinated.”

Ms Palaszczuk had also mentioned Japan – where she traveled to in August for the Olympics – saying: ‘In Tokyo you have to sit in perspex screens with masks on and if you take off your mask you can’t talk while you chew. ‘

The prime minister made the comments during a fiery press conference in which she vowed to ignore the national plan she had agreed with other prime ministers and the prime minister in July.

The plan states that all domestic restrictions on fully vaccinated individuals will be lifted when 80 percent receive a double shot.

But Ms Palaszczuk claimed opening her border would mean “a step back” for her state that is Covid-free and has few restrictions.

“If you look at the national plan then the 80 percent is actually going backwards and I don’t want that for Queensland so we’re probably going to see a difference for Western Australia and Queensland because right now we have freedoms,” she said.

“Right now the people of Queensland have more freedom than the Victorians when they are 80 per cent vaccinated,” she said.

‘In NSW you have a huge Delta outbreak, so you should ask the NSW government what their plan is for Christmas?’

Ms Palaszczuk also claimed that Queenslanders would rather explore their own state than the rest of Australia and the world.

“Queenslanders would probably enjoy more freedoms to travel around Queensland than if they got on a plane and went to Tokyo,” the Prime Minister added.

“Let me tell you this, if we get a Delta outbreak here we will all be in lockdown and business will stop working,” Ms Palaszczuk said at a new vaccination center in Brisbane on Thursday.

‘Do you want that? Do you want that?’

“I don’t understand this constant criticism of Queensland’s doing well. I will always stand up for this state, I’m tired of being attacked because Queensland is doing a great job and Queenslanders are doing a great job.”

What are the four stages of opening?

A. Vaccinating, preparing and testing (from 14 July)

Arrival caps halved to 3,035 per week; early, severe and short lockdowns if outbreaks occur; trials of seven-day home quarantine for vaccinated arrivals in South Australia; medicare vaccination certificates available in apps like Apple Wallet

B. Post-vaccination phase (when 70 percent will be stung, expected by the end of this year)

Lockdowns less likely but possible; vaccinated people face reduced disabilities; limits for unvaccinated arrivals increased; a larger limit for vaccinated arrivals with ‘reduced quarantine requirements’; limited entry for students and economic visa holders

C. Consolidation Phase (when 80 percent is pricked, time not announced)

Only ‘highly targeted’ lockdowns; lifting of all outbound travel restrictions for vaccinated travellers; no limits for vaccinated arrivals; increased limits for students and visa holders; more travel bubbles arise with countries like Singapore; booster shots rolled out

D. Final phase (percentage or time not disclosed)

Unlimited arrivals for vaccinated people without any quarantine and unlimited arrivals for unvaccinated people with pre-departure and on-arrival testing

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