The Australian Indian community has expressed its displeasure at the “sarcastic” comments from Queensland’s Annastacia Palaszczuk asking who would want to travel to India at this time.
Asked about the possibility that Australians could travel abroad by Christmas, the Queensland leader replied: “Where are you going to go?
“Are you going to go to India?” she added.
Shyam Das, president of the Federation of Indian Communities of Queensland, said the community did not take the comments well and were asking the Prime Minister for an explanation, SBS News reported.
“They are offended, very upset,” he said, adding that the community wondered why India was singled out.
Das said the border closures were having an impact on the mental health of his community.
Many people wanted to go to India, he said, whether to bury loved ones or to see their families after a long separation.
“I know someone whose mother died, she must have attended the funeral on video,” he told media.
“Instead of sympathizing with these people, (she) makes them even more upset by such comments.”
The Australian South Asian Forum said the comments were “unwarranted and must be protested.”
A spokesperson for Palaszczuk said the Prime Minister was highlighting the problem of approving international travel anywhere if the federal government did not identify countries to which Australians could travel.
“As general examples of countries that have unfortunately had high levels of COVID cases, she mentioned India and Japan, but there are many countries with COVID outbreaks that would also make travel problematic,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
“She explained in more detail the difficulties encountered in Japan.
“The Prime Minister clearly conveyed Queensland’s best wishes for India, including a donation of AU $ 2million to the Red Cross in May this year following a meeting with Indian community leaders . “