Senate debates

Thursday, 10 December 2020

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Repatriation

2:35 pm

Photo of Marise PayneMarise Payne (NSW, Liberal Party, Minister for Foreign Affairs) Share this | Hansard source

I thank Senator Keneally for her question. Around 39,000 people overseas are registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and wish to return to Australia. Over 430,000 Australians have returned from overseas since the government recommended that Australians reconsider the need to travel overseas. Since March, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has supported over 32,700 Australians to return, on over 500 flights. That includes over 11,200 people on 77 government-facilitated flights since March. A further 118 passengers landed in Hobart on Sunday from Delhi on a DFAT-facilitated flight with Qantas. Since 23 October, DFAT has facilitated 13 flights, with 1,847 passengers. Those numbers are, of course, constrained by the capacity of quarantine availability in Australia, through the caps supplied by the states and territories and agreed by the National Cabinet. Further facilitated flights with Qantas are planned for Frankfurt, Chennai, Paris, London and Delhi. Since 18 September, when the Prime Minister spoke about these matters after National Cabinet, over 45,400 Australians have returned to Australia. That includes more than 17,500 Australians registered at that time with DFAT, and, of these, over 3,800 were vulnerable. We continue to help those who are vulnerable through our hardship provisions, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has distributed significant funds to a number of those Australians. The consular division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and our consular offices around the world are literally working, with no exaggeration, no hyperbole, 24 hours a day and seven days a week to assist as many Australians as possible to return.


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