House debates

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Statements by Members

COVID-19: Visa Processing

1:39 pm

Photo of Julian HillJulian Hill (Bruce, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I thought it must be April Fools' Day when I heard today that Minister Tudge actually declared that the parents of Australians are not their immediate family members. It would be funny if it weren't actually so serious. Right now the minister is forcing the elderly parents of Australians—people who are already safe here in Australia—to fly overseas during the pandemic. They paid $50,000 each for their visa, and he's forcing them to fly back again just so they can have their visa granted. It's not just stupid; it's downright dangerous, making elderly people take an expensive, pointless round trip overseas, risking COVID-19 infection and wasting a precious quarantine place.

On Saturday night, the minister panicked ahead of my private member's bill and said he'd fix this exact same problem for the partners of Australians. So why not for their parents? This hopeless minister is actually telling thousands of Australians that their parents are not considered family by his department. This is madness. Over 36,000 Australians are desperate to come home, stranded, waiting for a quarantine place, yet the minister is wasting those precious quarantine places, forcing people who are already here to fly overseas and back again. He has the power to fix this today with the stroke of his pen. He could do it in question time. I'll help him draft the change. If he doesn't fix it today, the Prime Minister should sack him.