Australian Border Force accused of racism over travel exemptions

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CANBERRA, May 23: The Australian Border Force (ABF) has been accused of racism over travel exemptions enforced after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to government data released on Saturday, the ABF was significantly more likely to allow people to come to Australia from the US and the UK between August 2020 and March 2021, reports Xinhua news agency.

Anyone trying to enter Australia who is not a citizen or resident of Australia amid the pandemic has had to apply for an ABF exemption to do so.

More than 23 per cent of applicants from the UK and one fifth of those from the US were granted exemptions to travel to Australia despite the pandemic raging in those countries.

By comparison, only 14.9 per cent of applicants from China and 7.2 per cent of those from India were approved.

The rejection rates for prospective travellers from South Africa, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal were twice as high for those from the US and the UK.

Nick McKim, the immigration spokesperson for the Greens Party, said that the data proved that applicants from mostly-white countries were approved at higher rates.

“Ultimately, if Home Affairs can’t explain this discrepancy, then they need to urgently review their exemption system to ensure that there is no racial bias influencing decisions,” he said.

(IANS)