Australia

Stranded Australian launches Federal Court challenge to India travel ban

The travel ban on India was being challenged in the Federal Court on Wednesday afternoon, with a stranded Australian lodging a formal court challenge against Health Minister Greg Hunt.

Health Minister Greg Hunt. Photo: AAP

The case was lodged by a 73-year-old Australian who travelled to India in early 2020.

The man, Gary Newman, is stuck in Bangalore, unable to return home because of the federal government’s decision to pause flights from COVID-stricken India.

The Morrison government has invoked the Biosecurity Act to stop travellers returning from India, or face potential penalties of five years jail or $66,000 fines if they do.

News of Wednesday’s urgent court application broke just as Mr Hunt was giving a press conference. He declined to comment on it, referring only to previous statements where he said the government maintained its travel restrictions were legal.

Mr Newman is being represented by Marque Lawyers, the law firm that previously represented the woman who accused federal minister Christian Porter of a 1988 rape.

 

Marque Lawyers has been critical of the travel ban on Twitter.

“We are the only country preventing our own citizens from coming home and making it an offence to try,” read one tweet on May 1.

In another on the same day, in reference to the emergency declaration that criminalises travel from India, Marque tweeted “in our opinion it’s invalid”.

The firm also responded to deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, who said on Wednesday morning that “nobody” would be jailed under the India ban.

“It’s not the government that decides who is prosecuted or imprisoned. That is up to the police and the courts. They are talking rubbish,” Marque tweeted.

The challenge was being heard from 3pm on Wednesday.

-more to come



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