Thursday 6 May 2021

Do we have a "right" to "come home"

or is it just a little more complicated than that?

There is currently a row going on here because the Downunder government decided to temporarily ban people from returning here from India. Please note the word "temporarily". 

There is some question as to whether that was on medical advice, out of an abundance of caution, or for some other reason. 

People are now jumping up and down and screaming "racist" and many other things. This is despite the fact that there are still many thousands of Downunderites in other places who are not able to return to the country of which they are citizens.

I think I have said elsewhere my only first cousin lives in London. He lives with his partner in a tiny flat in central London. They had planned to come out here late last year and would have spent the English winter - our summer - here. Covid19 put a stop to that. Rather than try to get on flights and flee to relative safety they are being ultra-cautious there. It's the sensible approach even though it is not the one they would prefer. Yes, my cousin has a job there and they have somewhere to live. 

I know it is not the same for many other people. They have lost their jobs in the pandemic. Some of them are probably couch-surfing. The government has been bringing people home but they have been doing it slowly, too slowly for many people. 

There are people who actually went off to India in the midst of this pandemic. They were advised against going. The government gave some of them permission on compassionate grounds. Yes, I can understand that. People do want to go to the funerals of parents, to support their surviving parent and much more. 

But do they have the absolute right to be on the next plane "home"? Do they have that right when they were told there could be a problem but took the risk anyway? Do they have the right to go to the head of the queue - past those people who have been stranded for months through no fault of their own?

"The government should have built dedicated quarantine facilities," we are being told. It is as if such facilities could be built overnight in a suitable location with quick access to medical facilities. 

We are also being told that people should go into quarantine on Christmas Island - despite the fact that it would be a logistical nightmare to even try and organise. It would also be downright dangerous. You need quick access to high level health care - and that is not available there. 

The "ban" on "returning home" is temporary. There will be any number of good reasons for it, including how many people the government can place in quarantine. The cost of all this is enormous and rarely mentioned. It is irresponsible for the Leader of the Opposition to simply suggest that the empty seats on planes from India be filled with people who want to come home. He knows full well that it isn't that simple.

Yes, there are constitutional issues involved in what we can call the "right of return" but they have to be balanced against other issues - and the safety of everyone concerned.


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