The Prime Minister is standing firm on his decision to threaten to fine or jail Australians returning home from Covid-19 ravaged India, despite growing calls for him to withdraw and accusations he is "cowardly" and has "blood on his hands".
Mr Morrison is insisting that the use of Biosecurity Act to jail or fine Australian citizens is "pretty much zero" and "highly unlikely" based on "alarming" health advice, while he has also pointed to the temporary nature of the travel ban and any other use of the Act.
With Covid overwhelming India's heath system, direct flights between the two nations have been paused until at least May 15 and Australians now face up to five years in jail or a $66,600 fine under the Biosecurity Act if they try and return through indirect means.
"This is a temporary pause," he told ABC radio on Tuesday.
"We've seen an escalation in the number of cases coming off recent planes that has been far in advance of what we've seen from other countries over the course of the pandemic.
But he is batting away criticism that this is placing Australians at risk and, in particular, from former Test cricketer turned commentator Michael Slater that Mr Morrison had "blood on his hands" with Australians now trapped in COVID-19 hit India.
"I respectfully disagree with the critics on this one," the Prime Minister said in Rockhampton.
"The buck stops here when it comes to these decisions and I am going to take decisions that I believe will protect Australia from a third wave and help me to be able to reach out and bring more Australians safely home from places where they are in difficult situations."
In a letter sent to Health Minister Greg Hunt on Friday, Australia's Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly conceded Australians could become seriously ill and, in a worst-case scenario, they could die while stranded in India.
Human rights groups, constitutional law experts and lawyers have questioned the legality of the travel ban while there is wide condemnation of the morality of such a move.
The head of the Australian Medical Association says there is outrage and distress in the Australian community.
Dr Omar Khorshid has written to the prime minister and health minister on Tuesday calling for the immediate reversal of "the order to fine or jail Australians" and to "commit to the repatriation of vulnerable Australians in India at the end of the current travel ban."
Dr Omar Khorshid welcomes the suspension of flights, but believes the prison and fine threat is going too far.
"The order to imprison or fine those who might breach the current ban is seen by the medical profession as mean-spirited at a time when Australia should in fact be aiding India by bringing Australians home in order to avoid further burden on their collapsing health system," Dr Khorshid said on Tuesday.
"The order also sets a precedent in terms of the government's willingness to protect Australians overseas that sits poorly with a great number of Australians, including AMA members.
"We must be able to uplift vulnerable Australians from India when the current pause in flights is lifted."
The prime minister says he is aware of the concerns, but he insists his priority is working towards resuming flights while the Australian quarantine system gets a "breather."
"This is a measure which ensures that we can keep Australia safe at this time. And we can get more Australians back safely," he told Channel Nine.
The Opposition Leader Another Albanese has resumed his call for the federal government to airlift Australians out of India.
"It's alright for ministers to take planes to Europe, to travel around and to try to get votes, but we can't use those assets to bring Australians home?" he said on Tuesday.
"We have obligations. The Australian passport and Australian citizenship must mean something."
Senior frontbencher Bill Shorten has also urged action, "to do nothing to me is cowardly. And I think history will not judge this moment very well."