Can’t quarantine stranded Aussies. Can quarantine farm slaves.

The way our governments treat Australians stranded abroad is a disgrace.

18 months on from the pandemic and there are still tens-of-thousands of Australians stuck overseas and unable to return home due to: 1) prohibitive arrivals caps and quarantine limits; and 2) extortionately expensive airfares and quarantine costs.

For more than a year we have witnessed our state and federal governments bicker over arrival numbers, quarantine costs, and whether quarantine should be moved from city hotels to the regions. Meanwhile, Australians stranded abroad are watching on in dismay wondering if they’ll ever come home.

In the ultimate insult, our governments have established special subsidised quarantine arrangements for migrant fruit pickers.

That’s right, while the Victorian Government has tightly restricted and regularly banned overseas arrivals into Melbourne as it grapples with regular COVID outbreaks, it paid the Tasmanian Government $7.8 million to quarantine 1,500 migrant fruit pickers:

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.

Victoria’s agricultural industry is now calling for more special favours:

The Victorian government cut a deal in March to bring 1500 Pacific workers to Tasmania to quarantine before travelling over Bass Strait to work on Victorian farms. More than 1300 have arrived to date, but there are no arrangements in place to bring in more workers between October and March, when most horticulture crops are harvested…

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud wrote to his Victorian counterpart Mary-Anne Thomas on Tuesday, urging her to renew the existing scheme – a plan he said had already been endorsed by the Tasmanian government.

“As labour demands for agricultural work in Victoria are expected to peak in October, I encourage the Victorian government to provide certainty for industry by extending this arrangement as soon as possible,” Mr Littleproud said.

Other states have ongoing arrangements for growers to apply to bring in Pacific workers contracted to work in their farms.

Meanwhile, the Morrison Governments new Agricultural Visa will allow regional businesses to import indentured migrant labour from 1o South East Asian nations, with these workers qualifying for permanent residency if they commit to working for three years:

Having stranded Australians return to their own country is clearly less important to our governments than providing farms with cheap migrant labour, subsidised by the taxpayer.

Why aren’t these quarantine facilities being used to house actual Australians desperate to return home? Why aren’t actual Australians being given priority? And why are returning Australians being forced to wear the full costs of their quarantine when taxpayers are subsiding the costs of migrant fruit pickers?

Quarantine facilities and flights should be used first and foremost to return stranded Australians.

When foreign fruit pickers carry more political weight than returning Australians, you know our governments have lost their moral compass.

Unconventional Economist
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Comments

  1. The fed broke it. Now, they own it.

    I’m stranded in Canberra at the moment waiting for cases to go to zero so I can return home to Perth. I tried applying on compassionate grounds, PPOR is Perth, I own a house in Perth, my mid-80s parents live in Perth, my son lives in Perth, and I am in temporary accommodation. Tell me why stranded Australians overseas have more rights to live in their own house and see their own family than stranded Australians in Australia? I wish I was overseas as that according to WA gives me more rights to return home.

    • The fed broke it. Now, they own it.

      I would gladly pay $3000 quarantine and $3000 airfare to get home, but then I am in Australia and have less rights than if I was overseas.

      • SoCalSurfCreeperMEMBER

        If you were overseas you’d have to pay more like $15k for a flight and wait at least 90 days. You’re better off as a fruit or vegetable technician.

        • yes SOCALSC you nailed it. Family friend been trying to get home for many months from living in Europe. She still travels on Aus passport. Tried to come home cause family member attempted suicide but that was not good enough to get on plane or get in. Australia has trashed it’s citizenship & deserves whatever comes at them now. It’s majorly embarrassing as all countries allowed their citizens to return (or leave for that matter?)
          Australia has lost its soul.

      • Frank DrebinMEMBER

        Why did you turn this into an issue of Aussies overseas trying to come home ?. It’s your fckwit Premier that is the problem, not those Aussies still stranded offshore !!.

        It’s great seeing McGowan bleating about Qantas potentially pulling London-Perth flights. What do you want them to do, sell flights to people so they can end up in hotel prison in Perth for 14 days to satisfy your megalomania ?.

        The guy is next level deluded.

    • Sorry to hear that mate. Did you not get McGowan’s call to get back to Perth ASAP if you’re in NSW/ACT?

      • The fed broke it. Now, they own it.

        I’m in the ACT and applied from Canberra. Without a direct Canberra to Perth flight, it’s near impossible and Qantas dropped this. I can not enter NSW as the ACT will not allow me back in nor could I take the risk of transiting in Sydney if McGowan changes his mind and I am in an even worse position. No other state except Victoria allows anyone to transit even in the airport. I need to apply for a WA border permit and a Victorian transit permit. At this stage, waiting it out and hopefully, Qantas reinstate a direct flight.

        • You missed answering AlexD’s question. Why didn’t you return to WA when McGowan told you to.
          All of us in WA no the risks with the border. Leave the state and you accept that risk.

          • The fed broke it. Now, they own it.

            Because I am not in NSW. A completely different jurisdiction. Why would WA give more preference to someone in NSW than ACT? ACT is not high or extreme risk and will get cases down to zero in the next few days. I applied to travel via Melbourne which would give me the best hope of returning. Why taking the high risk route through Sydney give me more rights to return home? Inconsistent application of the rules. Extreme risk is okay medium risk is not.

          • You just said you couldn’t get a flight out of the ACT to Perth so the only choice was to go via a connecting flight to another city. If that’s the reality then you need to deal with that. It’s not like you’re stranded overseas (which is what this article was mainly on about). Those people are in a real pinch.

            The warning given by McGowan was pretty clear. Sucks I know but there are risks we need to deal with. Once you’ve done your iso in WA the ACT will let you back in.

  2. We’ve managed to pull a couple of thousand people out of Kabul in the last few days. Why can’t we send the same planes to London or LA?

  3. There’s two classes of Citizen in Australia and NZ today, resident citizens and non-resident citizens (may even be 3 classes given above !) – clearly, non-resident citizens don’t matter because our Government’s would rather satisfy business interests than uphold the rights of their own people.