Monday, 22 February 2021
Private Members' Business
COVID-19: International Travel
I thank my good friend the member for Bowman for putting forward this motion. It's a topic that I have spoken about time and time again up until now. Our priority is of course to get Australians home. To do this, we must have all states working together towards being able to successfully quarantine as many international arrivals as possible.
Since March last year, we have seen over 211,000 Australians return home, but there are still many Australians and their families separated and hurting. The last 12 months dealing with the COVID pandemic have been difficult for all of us. But, as I know many members in this Chamber would know, some of the most difficult calls we have had to make and listen through have been from constituents whose family members have been stranded overseas, constantly searching for new flights to open up only to have them booked out or cancelled, having flights stopped or changed due to changing quarantine conditions from their country of origin. Whether it be a mum, a dad, a son, a daughter or a friend, it's incredibly stressful. It's impacting many families across our community as they struggle to be reunited.
We know many made the decision, when the pandemic first started, to stay where they were. We respect this decision. But of course it's been over 12 months now. Lives change and elements of your family and your situation change, and that has led many to try to come back. While there are many elements we cannot control—like overseas airlines putting in place restrictions about transiting through other countries—we can help Aussies get home by having sensible and effective quarantine arrangements in place in all states.
We have seen it can be done. This is not beyond our ability. New South Wales has been a standout during this process and has done the heavy lifting when it has come to international arrivals. They still do. Those on the other side of the Chamber, the Labor MPs, are having a little giggle to themselves, but these are the numbers, plain and simple. You can hear them for yourselves. New South Wales takes in 430 passengers per day, compared to my home state of Queensland, which takes in just 1,000 a week. That's 1,000 a week versus 430 per day. WA takes in just 512 a week. WA is hardly taking more in a whole week than New South Wales is taking in a day. That's not to make a political point.