Why has Australia abandoned its own overseas?

It’s enough to make you wonder what’s the point of being an Aussie. New data today shows how badly we have let down Australians stranded overseas down during COVID-19:

  • Since the pandemic began, 461k Aussies have returned home.
  • But, 73k foreigners have also arrived while 40k Australian citizens want to return but can’t.

Why has Australia abandoned its own overseas? The first reason is grubs like this:

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack says “there is” room for a discussion on drastically lowering the number of Australians allowed back into the country.

Speaking to ABC News Breakfast on Monday, Mr McCormack was asked to comment on Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ suggestion last week that there should be a “cold, hard discussion” about barring the 40,000 Aussies still stranded overseas except for “compassionate” reasons, after the highly contagious UK strain of COVID-19 leaked out of the state’s hotel quarantine system, triggering a snap five-day lockdown.

This is a fundamental betrayal of the principle of being a public servant and MP. What’s the point of citizenship if your government won’t protect you in a health crisis?

Or, are Australians so paranoid about the virus now that they agree? According to Essential today:

  • 71% of people agree that the border should remain shut until the pandemic passes everywhere. They also think the border needs to remain shut until the public health crisis has passed and
  • 62% agree with the statement: “It should be the federal government’s responsibility to protect Australia’s international borders and manage the hotel quarantine system.”

If we are so happy to sell out our fellow Australians over something so manageable as a few charter flights, it really makes you wonder how we’re going to deal with larger threats like China long term as it picks us off one by one.

David Llewellyn-Smith


  1. We need more info on these “40k stranded” people. The number hasn’t changed since the pandemic started but we have brought home more than 400k. What is likely happening is that people are happy to stay overseas but at some point their situation changes and they want to come home. Do we just charter a bunch of flights and say this is your last change? Then after a certain date if you change you mind you just need to wait in line for a flight? Or does the Gov constantly charter flights for people who at some point in the future decide to return home? Is that fair?

    • The initial adice to stay put if your working etc was poor, charter flights and notice that this is your last chance until circumstances change should have happened july last year. When even icu staff catch this, hotel quarantine was always going to be snafu and should have been a temp measure until dedicated facilities set up by the feds. Now they’ll screw up vaccine rollout with AZ sugar pills.. Slomo has got to go

    • As Australian as AmpolMEMBER

      The far simpler number is – The Number of Australian passport holders and citizens overseas (as opposed to visa holders). Every last punter on that list should be contacted and asked…..

      ‘Are you currently OK?
      ‘Would you like, or do you need, assistance to return to Australia?’
      ‘If you are currently OK would you like us to make sure at some predetermined point in the future that you are still OK?’
      ‘Do you have the ability to return to Australia with your own financial resources?’
      ‘Do you have, or do those Australian citizens in your care have, any health issues stemming from a prolonged period offshore? Do you believe you can access appropriate medical care should you need it?’
      ‘If the Australian government were to organise repatriation flights from near your current location would you access these?’
      ‘Do you accept that the Australian government may attribute a higher immediate priority to other Australians currently stranded offshore?’
      ‘Do you accept that any return to Australia will involve at least a 2 week quarantine at an Australian quarantine facility, and COVID testing prior to release into the Australian public?’

      DFAT should have been required to compile a number right from March 2020. They didnt and they were explicitly told not to. That number was and is considerably larger than 40 thousand. It was only after an article published at Macrobusiness that DFAT got around to placing a ‘stranded Australian? Register here’ site on the front page of the smartraveller’ website.

      At least until, and until well after in many instances, any Australian offshore who called their local embassy – and I have had direct conversations with people in a range of countries (all citizens, all saying the same thing) – they were told the embassy could not help them and that they should contact airlines, or wait for announcements from the Government or DFAT.

      Those calling airlines were told that the airlines had little idea what was going on, and that they should call DFAT or the local embassy.

      The DFAT line in for the public invariably involved a lengthy wait listening to elevator music, voiceovers telling them their call is ‘valued’, and further voiceovers telling them they can ‘make contact online through the smart traveller site’ and then subsequently when they did get through to some peon in Canberra or Sydney that ‘their calls will be recorded for coaching and quality assurance purposes’. Given the expense of making those calls using phone systems, and a DFAT system which sees Skype or other VOIP systems fail when trying to call, that made contact rather difficult (deliberately so).

      A very large number of Australian citizens have (still and had (in March 2020) a quite legitimate reason to be overseas. Those reasons include:-

      – Family and caring responsibilities for people overseas
      – Employment overseas
      – Contractual obligations to be overseas
      – Risk to themselves from traveling
      – Lack of ability to afford a ticket home (bearing in mind that returning home on a flights [even repatriation flights], plus connecting flights to wherever they can get flights from, COVID tests pre flights (often including testing to get into a location from where flights to Australia are departing from) and quarantine costs in Australia are regularly topping more than 20-30 thousand AUD for families (eg 2 parents 2 kids).

      That is also complicated by the number of people who have had offshore employment contracts (in which they had hitherto thought they were safe) end since March 2020, or who have had their caring responsibility either get better or pass on.

      The reason there has been a relatively small number of Australians ‘registered’ as being offshore is fairly simple. Until late in 2020 the ability to ‘register’ as being an offshore Australian and ‘register’ as desiring assistance home has been utterly feeble. DFAT have also assumed that those Australians who are trapped overseas in another country where they have citizenship are not a responsibility of DFAT.

      While I may accept that there may be a case for saying this then at that point those Australians are obviously ‘second class’ Australian citizens as far as their Australian citizenship goes, and once the concept of ‘second class’ citizenship is adopted then it may take on some entirely unanticipated forms.

      • according to NCA newswire, Education Minister Alan Tudge said:
        “35,000 foreign students have been granted an exemption to travel to Australia since the March ban to January 31 2021”

      • Can I just ask

        ‘Given the expense of making those calls using phone systems, and a DFAT system which sees Skype or other VOIP systems fail when trying to call, that made contact rather difficult (deliberately so).’

        I have had issues trying to deal with the public service when calling them by skype and whatsapp. Do they deliberately not take calls via these?

  2. “Or, are Australians so paranoid about the virus now that they agree? According to Essential today:”
    If the virus is so bad we need to lock down an entire city or state because a dozen or less people have it then it makes sense that we shouldn’t be bringing in anyone from overseas.
    It’s either that dangerous, or it isn’t. Trying to have it both ways is why public opinion is the way it is.

  3. This is a fundamental betrayal of the principle of being a public servant and MP.

    This is a quaint idea of “principles”.
    All public servants and MPs these days only do what their donors tell them. They are not beholden to any “citizens”.

  4. I thought it was because the Australian Government is worried they might be Spys.

    Australians making trips to and from China might pose a Security Risk to the Australian people? Why are they going there in the first place and how loyal to Australia are they? Sold out to Chinese Money? Sold out there Nation?

    Maybe they are thinking, ” They are traitors and not loyal to Australia anymore “.

    or maybe Australias Left and Right just wants Australians all dead.

    I honestly dont know anymore.

    Its absurd that the migration was the biggest deployment of Chinese Spys on Australian Soil and yet our Government continues to defend it. Just look at Chattswood. Its basically a PLA Spy Suburb with Huawei Communications operating on Australian Soil. Who needs enemys abroad when they operate on home turf? Gladys Berejiklian supported it all the way.

    Everything Australia does is completely absurd to me nowadays. There’s no logic to anything we do anymore except the corruption we have. Everyone sells there soul for money nowadays and Im not surprised half this Country is abandoning its own Government.

    Without an Anti-Corruption Committee, I dont even think I can take this Country seriously anymore.

  5. 2018 to 2038.

    I just see it getting worse and worse.

    I think this is just the start of Baby Boomer Corruption. Boomers are just deteriorating. It might take a few years but they’ll go too far and I suspect when they do, the whole systems going to tank. Boomers are money obsessed and we just keep on choking the money fountain. Boomers are biting the hand that feeds them. Its all dying.

    The scary thing isnt whether it’ll recover. The scary thing is whether the young give a shit anymore. Re-engaging the young is going to be an almost impossible job and sadly, thats what we are going to need to do if we want this Country to have any kind of future.

    While the Boomers have sung there choir of self-interest, young lives have been parked for 20 years. Suddenly, there’s an expectation that they’ll all just stand up, become career professionals and run this country into prosperity. The young will save us ( despite being locked in a box for 20 years and socially castrated ).

    Social Castration is a lifestyle now. Hanging out in the corner is a young lifestyle. Bullying and Abuse is a lifestyle. What possible incentive could this country offer todays young that’ll change 20 years of human programming so they’ll start giving a shit about this country again?

    They just dont care. The only thing I see, is a Government thats going to migrate every Australian away. Multi-Culturalism is just short for, ” We are going to migrate every Australian citizen away until there’s no Australian Identity left “. If thats allowed to happen, Australia will be dead and there’ll be no recovery. There’s no past so there’ll be no future either.

    All I see is a bunch of Baby Boomers ( and Government ) trying to protect its own Greed. It declared war on Australia 20 years ago out of self-interest, now the grounds shifting beneath its feet. Now we’re becoming ever more desperate to keep all of this going. The aggressive anger and attitudes of todays Boomers is proof of that.

    Australians have now become the enemy to a self-interest thats completely self-destructive and unlikely to last another 10 years.

    If there’s anything I know about Ego, its people go too far. It always does.

    • Vivian DarkbloomMEMBER

      I like the way you are thinking and hate what you are saying – because, sadly, it’s true.

    • So true. The young will be too busy working 3 jobs to service their Boomer induced housing and HECS debt loads.

      No young locals will be left to care for the aging Boomer demographic.

      No doubt Australia will import more carers from OS.

      The Boomers will get just the care they deserve from their underpaid, exploited and properly resentful new Australians.
      LOL, LOL, LOL

    • BOOMER TO MILLENNIAL: “Stop your complaining it was tougher in my day to buy a house – HARDEN UP!!!”

      “MILLENNIAL TO BOOMER : “Stop your complaining, 2020 was just another flu season – HARDEN UP!!!”

  6. Yeah feels like you need a break down of those 40k ppl to really dive in to whats what.
    Are these all 40k dual citizens who entered the other country on that country’s passport?

    If so the international rules are pretty clear. They are considered a citizen of that country during their stay. Similar issue happened when 5 people went to a country, one of them entered on a dual passport but of the local country. The Aus Govt helped the 4 people who entered on Aus passport but not the one on local passport.
    It sounds tedious but those are the rules of enagement in these matters.For all intents and purposes, these people are in their home country. And it has caught people out before.

    Having said that, if these 40k ppl are only citizens of Aus or entered on Aus passport, then we have a problem of abadonment by Aus govt.

    • peterbruceMEMBER

      Spot on Divya. People who elect to have dual nationality have exactly that. They want two bob each way. Sometimes an each way bet does not pay. People with Only Aus passport should have top priority.

  7. Only recently( 4wks ago ) it became mandatory to have a covid test 72 hrs before boarding a plane to OZ. Surely this is having an impact on the numbers of positive tests during quarantine.
    No differentiation is being made on where the punter is coming from eg UK v Singapore or Sth Africa v Thailand
    Is Victoria the only state having issues ? Sounds like it.
    Currently NSW Quarantine is costing the punter $3000 +$1000 per extra adult and employing many people.

    Sounds like an organizational task that Vic is struggling with.