It’s time to bring stranded Aussies home

About 25,000 Australian citizens overseas have registered with the Federal Government that they wish to return home. However, most are unable to do so due to the 4,000-person cap on arrivals into the country each week as well as the high cost of airfares and hotel quarantine.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton have passed the buck to the states, claiming that they need to expand their hotel quarantine capacity before arrival caps can be increased:

“If we can lift hotel quarantine numbers, we can increase the number of Australians that can return home,” Mr Hunt said on Sunday.

“We are working constructively with the states to that effect.

“We want to ensure that every Australian that wants to come home is home by Christmas”…

Speaking on Insiders, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said he “would be happy to double the number of people tomorrow” provided states increased the number of rooms available to quarantine returned travellers for 14 days.

“It’s a function of the state health directive that people need to go into hotel quarantine for two weeks, but then putting a cap on the number of beds that are available [restricts the number of arrivals],” he said.

However, Labor’s immigration spokesperson Kristina Keneally has hit back, accusing the federal government of shirking its responsibility:

“I have news for you Minister Dutton, you are in charge of international borders and you are in charge of quarantine arrangements — that’s what the constitution says”…

Senator Keneally argued charter flights should be arranged to help desperate citizens being price gouged by airlines.

“It is within the capacity of the Commonwealth Government, which controls our international borders and quarantine, to figure this out,” she said.

“Send some charted planes out, used federal quarantine facilities that we have in place.”

Meanwhile, the Fake Greens recently tried but failed to open Australia’s border to non-resident, non-voting temporary migrants so that they can compete with locals for scarce jobs:

Senator McKim on Tuesday moved a motion in the Senate calling on the government to grant ‘inwards’ travel exemption to temporary visa holders who call Australia home.

In parliamentary procedure, a motion is a formal proposal by a member of a deliberative assembly that the assembly takes a certain action.

Senator McKim’s motion highlighted the plight of thousands of temporary visa holders who are stuck overseas and unable to return to Australia due to border closures and travel restrictions…

“Temporary visa holders contribute significantly to the Australian economy, having invested their time, energy, skills, and passion into Australia. They are part of our communities, our schools, and our businesses,” Senator McKim said.

“Many temporary visa holders were invited to Australia under our skilled migration program.

Mr McKim called upon the Government ‘to grant ‘inwards’ travel exemptions for all temporary visa holders who are separated from either their immediate family (including children, partners, and spouses), their established homes, and/or their jobs in Australia.’

Way to go Greens – always putting foreign nationals ahead of actual Australians.

Seriously though, Kristina Keneally is right: the Australian Government must double efforts to bring Australian citizens home.

Open up quarantine facilities and charter flights to pick them up. Even better, use the outbound flights to send stranded temporary migrants home. Get it done.

It is hard to fathom that the federal government has plans to fly international students and ‘skilled’ migrants into Australia while actual citizens are stranded abroad.

The biggest kick in the teeth comes from the Northern Territory, where taxpayers will foot half the cost of international student quarantine while Australians returning from overseas to the NT are being charged the full $2,500 cost ($5,000 for families) for their hotel quarantine.

When foreign nationals carry more political weight than Australians, you know your entire political system has been corrupted.

Leith van Onselen
Latest posts by Leith van Onselen (see all)


  1. “thousands of temporary visa holders who are stuck overseas”
    They are not stuck overseas. They are home, or if they are in a 3rd country they should contact thier country of origin where one assumes they have citizen ship to deal with their situation.

    Greens are losers.

    • NoodlesRomanovMEMBER

      25,000 citizens. Some are back packer gap year types who would be ready to pick fruit for another couple of years bumming around or head to the uni course they put off. Some would be educated professionals coming back from a few years of a highly paid ex-pat jobs, some would be relatively new Australians who tick all the woke boxes.

  2. Greens – always putting foreign nationals ahead of actual Australians.

    Just like Kristina:

    migrants from China, India face waiting more than a year to receive their Australian citizenship

    putting their plans to

    apply for government jobs on hold

    Hence the outsourcing so those jobs can be given to foreign nationals:

    employees often have the same titles as public servants and even sit next to them in the office — but they work for private businesses, not the government.

    • ALP’s priorities in order: Union bosses first and foremost; then university bosses, then the CCP, then immigrants and temporary visa holders; then toxic feminism, then LGBTQI and the destruction of families, then.. property developers, then the real estate industry, then… etc. etc. ordinary Australian citizens are well and truly down the list.

      • I recommend drafting a letter to your Labor MP and outlining your perception of where you stand in their list of priorities. And make sure to highlight that the circles you move in feel broadly the same.

        Actually, I might do the same.

      • I quite often see ex union secretary, Greg Combet, swanning around Avalon Beach, Sydney, with ABC newsreader, Juanita Phillips. They are an item. This ponzie shight is incestuous. I am going to say something to him. Suggestions?

        • Doubt if he’ll listen. He’s the highly compensated chairman of Australia’s biggest superannuation fund. It’s in his personal and professional interest to support the immediate arrival of as many migrants (temporary or permanant) as can be squeezed into every eastern state capital.

  3. Are Dutton and the coalition effectively using the Australians stranded overseas as hostages to force the states to increase hotel quarantine capacity as a first stage of getting the ponzi restarted?

  4. Mixed feelings about this:
    – if you left to go on holiday, you’re obviously back by now
    – if you were on an extended break (back-packing), the gubbermint gave ample warning it was shutting its borders
    – if you left to pursue a career Overseas, then hunker down till this blows over. You were clearly comfortable a few months ago, but not now?

    For what reason precisely do these people all suddenly need to be back here?

      • reusachtigeMEMBER

        Yep. If you’re young and living in Europe you’d be farkn stupid to want to come back to this hell hole. Over there cafes and nightspots are pumping and relations are in full force. Beach life is cranking.

        Here it’s dystopian.

        And if I was in the US maybe, just maybe, I’d come home but not because of the virus but for the commie induced anti-Trump chaos championed by the macro afternoon bloke’s sick cartoons.

    • I kind of agree with your sentiment but I know the specifics of too many cases to adopt the hard line that you are advocating.
      Lets look at one specific case that I know of.
      – Family of 5 (Mum, Dad and 3 kids) Dad had a job at a startup that has since lost its funding. There was no expat package (everyone was on reduced pay) but now there’s also no resident visa (residency came with the job) so they have to leave. Trouble is the airlines want upward of $15 per ticket oneway. They just don’t have that sort of money available oh and once they’re back in Australia they’ll have at least $25k expenses (rent, bond, furniture, car, quarantine …the list goes on and on, so they don’t want to dump all their savings plus max out their borrowings just for airfares). They’ve heard horror stories from acquaintances about having packed up all their belongings and sold their car etc only to be refused travel at the airport (Airlines are selling Business class tickets at the last minute and then refusing to let Economy ticket holders board even though they were told a few days earlier that their places were guaranteed). So these guys are just staying put for the moment, they have no idea what will happen if immigration comes knocking.
      They just want to get home and start working again.

      • Totes BeWokeMEMBER

        I feel for them, but they were warned again and again.

        Having to pay your own way home, or in fact not being able to get home needed to be included in the decision making months ago.

        Why should taxpayers fund their reckless decisions?

        It was a no brainer decision with kids. They should have come home when they could.

        I’ve got family members i was talking to working overseas that were balking. I asked them “what are you thinking?”….you get stuck overseas and you’re in all sorts of trouble.

        Poorly informed is the problem IMO.

        • I suspect you’ve never been an expat living with your family in a foreign country.
          Sure they were warned in March but the door was basically slammed shut in April, that’s just not enough time to make these sorts of arrangements.
          Remember that they don’t have an empty house in Australia that they can simply return to, they have kids in school, all the school fees are already paid, they got a lot of costs if they simply jump ship (rent contracts, plus bonds and that’s without mentioning the lost opportunity with what sounded like a really good startup) and they’re coming back to nothing, no job, no social network, no house and a rental/RE market that is shut down.
          Yes these are all risks, but lets be honest this is the first time in the last 100 years that Australia has closed its borders, so that particular risk wasn’t on anyone’s radar.
          I personally believe that Airlines should be made to honor the Economy class tickets that they’ve sold and have confirmed bookings on. It’s BS that the airlines are taking their money for full priced economy tickets (still many $K per ticket) and then just saying FU when you turn up at the airport with the whole family in tow. Actually its worse then just that because the airlines aren’t quick to refund the ticket price after they refuse to let you board. So I know people that have booked and fully paid for tickets several times over with the airlines hanging on to the money and promising them a flight in a month or two maybe.
          This is way beyond people not understanding the risks and wanting someone else to pay for they negligence, these sorts of risks were completely unforeseeable just 9 months ago..

          • Totes BeWokeMEMBER

            “that particular risk wasn’t on anyone’s radar”

            Government were clear how serious they were with adequate deadlines. Yes I agree it’s unprecedented and therefore many didn’t believe it’d happen.

            “I personally believe that Airlines should be made to honor the Economy class tickets that they’ve sold and have confirmed bookings on”

            Absolutely. Government is too busy giving away our future to MSM with Google’s algorithms with Greens blessing.

            This country’s priorities are so ridiculously bad, we deserve what’s coming.

      • I agree that it’s never black and white and that there will always be winners and losers in this — but that’s life in a nutshell, right?

        Risk exists: you build a home on the beach and the sea washes it away. You build a home in the bush and a fire burns it down.

        We live in a world where everyone expects Govt to ‘do something’ — “bail us out!” they cry. Bad things happen, people have bad luck. The gubbermint cannot save everyone and nor should they be expected to.

        One day they’ll barely have the resources to fund a modest health service – then citizens will discover the meaning of ‘reality’.

        (As an aside: good luck to all those who want to come back and expect to find jobs).

        • Yes but in this case the problem was directly created by the government doing something that is completely unprecedented. It is because of these caps on available seats per flight and total number of flights that we have this ticket gouging. The government could allow several full airplanes to land (450 people each) and then say that anyone on these flights needs to do 4 week quarantine (or something like this) . This would fix the problem real quick and stop the gouging.

          • Or they could just allow people to quarantine at home and that would solve the problem overnight.

            I just don’t understand the fuss over this ‘gouging’ claim. The airlines are private entities that are obliged to make a profit to survive – they’re not a charity. The airlines mandatorily (i.e. Govt directed) have to fly at a third of capacity in order to meet social distancing guidelines. Logically then, passengers need to pay 3 x the price, plus any additional cost imposed on airlines by social distancing practices at airports and elsewhere.

          • The airlines are private entities that are obliged to make a profit to survive – they’re not a charity.
            Absolutely and they should be able to charge any price that they can get BUT they should also be forced to honor any bookings that are confirmed.
            At the moment they’ll sell an Economy (full fare ticket) and fill the 50 (or whatever the current limit is) of tickets for the flight and then go on to sell the seats they’ve already sold again but at a much higher price as full fare Business class or First class. Each business class ticket that they sell results in a call to some unfortunate soul that thought they’d scored an Economy class ticket and consequently took steps to sell everything and move back to Australia only to get a call that they’ve been outbid. This is what I’m calling out as unacceptable conduct.
            But it gets worse because they hangon to your economy class fare so you need to find another say $2K to $5K for another chance to be F’ed by different airline.

        • Shades of MessinaMEMBER

          From what I have read nearly all these stuck Aussies are happy to pay their own way to get home, they just can’t get on a flight.

          How hard would it be for our government to run charter flights covering costs to bring citizens home – you know like most other normal countries are doing now.

          As far as bailouts go Jobkeeper should be scrapped instantly and non-performing businesses wound up straight away. We have long known we live in a debt fuelled Ponzi scheme, so if you are in a non-viable job or business then tough titties.

          • My understanding is that people all over the world have gotten together to charter flights back to wherever they need to be — it’s not hard. Anyone with an IQ above 50 could do it. Get a Facebook page up and running and you’ll have plane full in 3 days. There are heaps of idle jets sitting around the tarmac, all over the world, along with air crews.

            The sticking point is the quarantine arrangements – that is the nut that needs to be cracked.

    • Longer post below but also if any dual citizens that are living in their other “home” country then just like temporary visa holders “stuck” in the their home countries then you aren’t really a problem for Australian taxpayers.

      I was working in the USA at the start of the GFC. Lost my nerve and returned home – visa was tied to job and actually kept a spot so actually had to give it up to someone else, but if you are not a citizen there is a higher risk profile – I was risk averse and came home. Those that stayed overseas took that risk – maybe they didn’t fully appreciate it but they took it.

  5. We should open borders to France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany … to get that “weak” virus mutation that makes very few people sick so our population can gain immunity and get freedom back soon.
    Case fatality rate in these countries fell by 95% to 0.5% or less with no much more testing than few months ago.
    Since mid June Austria had 15k cases and only 68 deaths,, while Vic had 17k cases more testing and over 700 deaths. Switzerland had 16k cases and 65 deaths
    This means their coronavirus IFR is actually lower than in case of influenza.

    Keeping borders closed will just let our bad virus strain kill more people despite all the measures and closures.
    If we let this new mutated virus in June by now Melbourne would have had 20% of population immune and less people dead and hospitalised while having no lockdown and very few measures

  6. I blame Qantas as well. Has not lifted a finger to help Australians while they increase their airfares to eye watering levels, with 3/4 empty plane, knowing very well the people catching them have little choice because they are either trying to get home or need to travel for essential reasons. ‘I still call Australia home’ my a…

  7. Lease planes, fly out unemployed temporary visa holders for no fee now( to be added to visa application in future) and bring Aussies back for quarantine.
    Any other problems to be solved?

  8. Here’s an idea – There is no doubt a collection of self contained mining camps dotted throughout WA and QLD (Kurra village, reportedly empty on the outskirts of Newman, springs to mind) that solve a number of issues confronting governments with repatriation.

    Isolation, independent living quarters (dongas), connection to airports, staff that can live on site permanently, full catering and health facilities and usually capacity for 500 – 2000 pax depending on the site. I am sure you can twist a few mining giants’ arms to help the national cause for 6 months to help clear the backlog.

    I wonder if anyone in power has had a look at utilising these for an instant solution to isolation? Might not completely solve the issue but would help boost the current cap?

    • The problem is that many of the flights end up having at least 1 Covid positive person so these people are at the quarantine centers. Nobody knows that they have it for a week or so meaning that everyone else needs to be isolated from the infected individual. These mining camps were not built to isolate the people in donga 1 from those in donga 2 but that’s what is required for a proper 2 week quarantine program.

    • My thinking – with wife and daughter currently trapped offshore – is broadly similar.

      Woomera (large ex military facilities which are currently – to my knowledge – barely used) and where large aircraft could just fly right in. Set up beds, tell everyone they will do 3 weeks isolation, and to bring some books or something to keep themselves occupied, and that they will be Covid tested on arrival and then 2 weeks later. The reason i suggest 3 weeks isolation is that many of these people will have to travel to get to departure points – and travel centres, train and bus stations, ferry terminals and airports are potentially high risk transmission zones.

      The other possibility i was thinking was Katherine (NT) although that is a frontline and heavily used RAAF base (Tindal). The Yulara resort (Uluru or Ayers Rock) might also be a goer, assuming they have sweet FA bookings right now. Could provide a local economic boom.

      If dongas are available the RAAF has other ‘bare bases’ in the North and West.

    • The former Inpex construction camp in Darwin is suitable. Name plate capacity is 6000 person plus. Close to Darwin International Airport and Hospital. Used in the Wuhan evacuation.

      • Forgot about Inpex – there’s a solution with a bow on it! Probably being depreciated for the next decade, so we might as well get some value for all the tax deductions.

  9. Personally I am all in favour of repatriating Australian “Citizens” BUT if you have dual citizenship and you are in the country of your other citizenship then we don’t have to help you.

    E.g. Dual Australian / Lebanese citizen “stuck” in Beirut? Not really our problem. Dual Australian / UK citizen “stranded” in London? Not really our problem. Dual Australian / Indian citizen “stranded” in Punjab? Not really our problem. In all those cases you have taken advantage of your dual citizenship – go see that country to help out one of its domestic citizens.

    But Australian only citizenship then sure we will help. Might encourage newer Australians to renounce other citizenships and fully commit to being on the bus with the rest of us. For full disclosure my kids have dual citizenships due to one foreign born parent.

  10. It’s not just stranded Aussies getting shafted.

    Don’t forget the relatives who live overseas who wish to visit Australia to attend funerals, weddings, births etc. They may not be Australian, but they have relatives living here who are either Australian, or are permanent residents. Yet these compassionate visits are being denied, in favour of foreign students and guest workers on temporary visas, many of whom who have no prior connection to Australia. This is absolutely corrupt.

    I understand that in a pandemic travel needs to be limited and carefully managed and I support measures around this. But the limitations need to be fair, and exemptions need to be prioritised fairly.

  11. And still we can’t leave this gilded cage…

    I’ve yet to see one compelling argument as to why we aren’t free to leave here. There is something deeply sinister afoot.

  12. The entire border closure is a complete and utter fook up at a State and Federal level. FFS, our politicians treat us like small children. Are we one country or not?

  13. Gee there seems to be a few smouldering martyrs in this comment thread………

    So lets get this right…..

    We have government splashing about billions on things like jobkeeper (which are fairly openly being rorted) and a range of business supports.

    We have governments splashing about billions on beefing up unemployment benefits and social supports.

    We have governments suspending insolvency laws.

    We have banks deferring billions in repayments for mortgages.

    We have an entire economy which, apart from 80-100 thousand people engaged in mining/resources, is effectively (one way or the other) all funded by the state, in an economy which has fairly openly morphed into a population Ponzi fuelled housing bubble, where a key facet of that bubble has been granting of temporary visas leading to citizenship.

    And some of you guys want to nickel and dime Australian citizens looking to get home?

    Given the billions being splashed about I cannot for the life of me see why the Australian Government has not already (as many other global governments did) simply organised charter flights home for Australian citizens.  Flying every last man jack of them home in First Class and having them waited on in luxury apartments for a fortnight (for free) would be nowhere near the waste of money being splashed about elsewhere in the name of supporting demand.

    That that same government is floating the flying of foreign nationals into Australia as students or fruit pickers, before offering to get Australian citizens home, beggars belief, and belittles Australian citizenship.

    From there it is worth observing that if people Are Australian citizens that should be the point of definition.  There are no grades of being an Australian citizen, and if someone has citizenship of somewhere else then that doesn’t diminish their Australian citizenship if they have legally and legitimately served the time and gone through the hoops involved in becoming an Australian citizen.  If there are issues to questions someone’s eligibility/candidacy for Australian citizenship then they should be addressed well before the point where someone is accorded Australian citizenship.  If our processes to give citizenship have become flawed in some way then the way to go is to revisit those processes, not diminish the citizenship by treating individuals as second class citizens.

    • I don’t get it either Gunna. Guess, a lot of Australians still have that cultural cringe mentality whereby anyone overseas is off on a lark and they should be bloody well back here mortgaged up to their eyeballs instead of you know, living and enjoying their life. I’d call it sheer envy and disappointment that now they’re old they realise they should have taken the leap when they were younger (especially now that they can’t go o/s).

  14. Many of the quarantine beds are being taken up by domestic travellers wanting to travel interstate. If they were allowed to self-isolate there would be more rooms for international travellers. Currently got three friends in quarantine – one has come in from the UK, the other from Tauranga NZ (covid free), and the last one is from Melbourne wanting entry into Adelaide. If you come from a low risk country like NZ, then self isolation with proper checks would be a lot more sensible then taking up space in a quarantine hotel.

    • It seems that it is too hard to trust people in AU. Our so called ‘elected leaders’ have to go full r3tard on mandatory quarantine with full police presence, curfews and big fines. It is the only way in this bullsh1t country. The 0.1% of d1ckheads seem to run the show due to scared and panic politicians. So very sad… If it wasn’t for the whole nanny state [email protected], people could go about their lives like normal…

    • May I ask, what criteria did your friends from UK and Tauranga get approval to come in? I ask because I know someone who applied to come in from NZ but got denied. They had a good reason (compassionate) but not an Australian citizen.

        • Thanks. Fair enough that they allowed them in under those circumstances. That really suggests to me that the federal govt must do something about the stranded Aussies and other compassionate cases.

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