Since the borders closed last year, I've heard the distressing stories of Australians of Indian descent who have been left stranded by this government. Exorbitant air fares, constant flight cancellations and a lack of quarantine facilities here in Australia have meant that they've been unable to come home. We all understood the need to shut down and protect our community when the pandemic first struck, but by now, more than 12 months later, the government should have put in place the infrastructure and logistics to bring Australians home.
The stories from India are heartbreaking. Ten thousand Australians are living in constant fear of catching COVID-19 in a nation with an overwhelmed and ever-collapsing health system. As one of my friends, Charishma Kaliyanda, who recently lost her grandmother in India, said: 'There's a real kind of anger about this. When you're a second-generation immigrant, you grow up here in the belief and the knowledge that you're a full and equal citizen. We talk about multiculturalism and diversity as a thing we're proud of. But when it comes to policies like this, it does matter where your parents come from because you are treated differently.'
The federal government must take responsibility for quarantine. It must improve the vaccine rollout, and it must make arrangements to bring Australian citizens home safely and as soon as possible.