Michael Slater has been lashed as a “spoiled prat” by a senior minister after the former Test cricketer hit out at the India travel ban.
Mr Slater has accused Prime Minister Scott Morrison of having “blood on his hands” over the government’s ban on Australians returning from India, currently fighting the world’s worst COVID-19 outbreak.
In a flurry of tweets this week, the former Test batsman demanded Mr Morrison “take your private jet and come and witness dead bodies” on the subcontinent.
But Nationals frontbencher David Littleproud told Mr Slater, who escaped India to the Maldives, to “grow up” and insisted the government’s primary objective was keeping Australians safe.
“Michael Slater needs to get over himself. He is acting like a spoiled prat,” he told Today on Thursday.
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“Michael Slater can sit on the beach and slam us over here in Australia. These are tough decisions, and we’re very empathetic with not only Australians there but also those thousands of Indians that are dying every day.”
Mr Slater travelled as a commentator for the Indian Premier League, which has been suspended due to the ongoing crisis, but escaped to the Maldives after India recorded more than 400,000 cases on Friday.
“If our Government cared for the safety of Aussies they would allow us to get home. It’s a disgrace!! Blood on your hands PM. How dare you treat us like this,” he tweeted.
Mr Littleproud conceded the Australian government had granted Mr Slater approval to travel but said he knew the risks of travelling during a pandemic.
“There’s a thing called personal responsibility, so take some personal responsibility. He actually has the resources to look after himself,” he said.
Mr Morrison moved to play down the stoush, saying he had been “focused on actually managing the pandemic” but respected Mr Slater’s right to voice his opinion.
“I understand that Michael disagrees with my decision. I respect that he’s a fellow Australian, and I look forward to be able to return safely home after having spent the time where he’s had to spend in the meantime,” he told 3AW radio on Thursday.
Mr Morrison said Australia’s cricketing community had “deep connections” with India, but the devastating outbreak on the subcontinent had forced the government to take drastic action.
“I understand that deep feeling, but as Prime Minister, I have to make decisions in Australia’s national interests,” he said.
“I have to make sure we keep Australians safe, and then we can bring Australians safely home. That’s what this is doing.”