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The federal government's move to ban Australian citizens returning from India is unprecedented. Despite an inability to get all Australians stranded overseas home, we've never threatened citizens with a criminal conviction -- up to five years in jail -- for trying to come home.

And while the government has claimed that its heavy-handed response to the situation is based on health advice, chief medical officer Paul Kelly told the ABC this morning he'd never recommended fines and jail time.

Morrison has defended the potential prison sentences, arguing that nobody has gone to jail under our Biosecurity Act in the last year. Still, the law is an incredibly tough deterrent. While sentencing judges get a fair bit of discretion, a five-year prison sentence wouldn't be uncommon for a sexual assault or some drug dealing offences. A Sydney actor recently got five years for killing a man with a samurai sword.