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.
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.