Monday, 15 February 2021
I seek leave to amend general business notice of motion No. 984 relating to Australians stranded overseas.
I move the motion as amended:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) the Commonwealth Government has a responsibility for quarantine,
(ii) international human rights agreements affirm that everyone has the right to return to their country,
(iii) around 39,000 Australians are stranded overseas, unable to return home due to limited quarantine capacity,
(iv) in addition, there have been more than 155,000 travel exemption requests from temporary visa holders seeking to return to Australia, where many have lived for extended periods, with jobs, families, and lives here – of which only around 25,000 have been approved, and
(v) many of those stranded overseas face significant costs and challenges, are often separated from their loved ones, and have experienced significant distress at being unable to return home; and
(b) calls on the Australian Government to:
(i) expand safe and effective federal quarantine capacity so that people stranded overseas can safely return home,
(ii) ensure that those stranded overseas can access affordable options to fly home, and
(iii) ensure that everyone is welcomed home with care and compassion.
Over 460,000 Australians have returned to Australia since the government recommended, on 13 March last year, that people reconsider the need to travel abroad, including over 91,000 since 18 September.
Throughout the pandemic, the Australian government has helped over 40,500 Australians return, including over 14,000 people on 104 government facilitated flights. On 16 January the government announced an additional 20 facilitated commercial flights. This includes five government facilitated Qantas flights that have arrived in Darwin and Canberra from London, Chennai and Delhi in recent weeks. A further four facilitated flights will land in Darwin over the next few weeks from London and Frankfurt, with passengers quarantining at the Centre for National Resilience at Howard Springs.