Only a week ago, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews called on the federal government to reduce the number of international arrivals into Australia to relieve pressure on state quarantine systems amid new highly infectious virus strains and regular outbreaks:
“With this UK strain – and we haven’t even got on to South Africa yet, because it’s just as bad – should we be halving the total number of people coming home? Or should it be a much smaller program that’s based on compassionate grounds?…
“What I’m saying is the game has changed. This thing is not the 2020 virus. It is very different. It is much faster. It spreads much more easily”.
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The news was a kick in the guts to the tens-of-thousands of Australians still stranded abroad and desperate to come home:
Kym Bramley, originally from Geelong, has been in Hermosillo, Mexico, since October 2019… She has been trying to get home since mid-2020 and currently has a flight booked for March…
“I wouldn’t call it frustrating, so much as devastating to me as a Victorian,” she said after Andrews’ press conference…
“I shouldn’t have to beg and plead my story to enter my own country. That is demeaning and feels invasive”…
“That’s probably the biggest disgrace – making me state my case as to why I should be allowed to return home for someone to tick and flick a few boxes to decide if I deserve compassion or not. I don’t have any right to live anywhere else. I have one passport and it’s Australian.”
Curiously, while Daniel Andrews is seeking to throttle the number of returning Australians to a few hundred a week, he has paid the Tasmanian Government $7.8 million of taxpayers’ money to quarantine up to 1,500 Pacific Islander farm workers:
The Victorian Government will… cover most of the cost associated with quarantining up to 1,500 Pacific Islander workers under its partnership with Tasmania through a $7.8 million funding commitment, with industry contributing $2,000 per worker.
This support package, developed in consultation with industry, will help address the barriers faced by farm businesses in attracting the local workforce that is crucial to this season’s harvest, while also keeping the costs to industry to a minimum.
Having stranded Australians return to their own country clearly less important to Dan Andrews than providing farms with cheap exploitable migrant labour.
One must ask, why aren’t these Tasmanian quarantine facilities being used to accommodate actual Australians desperate to return home and unable to do so due to strict arrival caps and a lack of available flights? Why aren’t these people being given priority?
Sadly, the chicanery doesn’t end there. The Northern Territory is considering setting up a new dedicated quarantine facility at the former immigration detention centre Bladin Point for sole use by international students:
The rejigged facility, which is privately owned, is touted, on its website as “able to accommodate up to 750 people in two co-located villages and features contemporary facilities for a modern transient workforce”…
[NT Chief Minister] Gunner said the use of Bladin Point to house international students was a “reasonable proposition” but would require conversations between CDU, the Commonwealth and possibly Defence…
International Education Association of Australia chief executive Phil Honeywood said it would be an “excellent idea” to have more than one option beside the Howard Springs quarantine facility for use in Darwin.
There is nothing “reasonable” about this proposition. These quarantine facilities must first and foremost be used to accommodate returning Australians, not foreign nationals.
When migrant workers and foreign students carry more weight than returning Australians, you know our governments have been corrupted.