Australians stranded overseas during COVID-19 are dealt ANOTHER huge blow as Scott Morrison cancels crucial meeting to increase the travel cap after ‘technical problems’ with his plane left him stuck in Queensland
- The National Cabinet meeting planned for Friday has been cancelled
- Scott Morrison was stranded in Cairns in North Queensland on Thursday night
- His RAAF plane had ‘technical issues’ and could not return to Sydney
- The Federal Government was expected to announce charter flights on Friday
- Thousands of Australians in the UK and India are set to be brought home
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been forced to postpone a critical national cabinet meeting to increase the travel cap to help Australians stranded abroad fly home.
More details were expected at Friday’s national cabinet meeting of state and territory leaders, but the virtual gathering has been postponed until next week.
The Prime Minister was pictured on the tarmac in Cairns on Thursday afternoon before a technical problem with his private RAAF plane prevented him from returning to Sydney
They quarantine facility at Howard Springs where thousands of Australians will stay on their return
Mr Morrison remains stuck in North Queensland due to a failure with his Royal Australian Air Force plane that was scheduled to fly him back to Sydney.
The prime minister was pictured standing on the tarmac in Cairns.
The national cabinet meeting would have been the first of its kind in a month had it gone ahead as planned.
Stranded and desperate citizens will now have to wait even longer to learn of their fate.
‘We’ve been working now for some months as we’ve been getting more and more Australians home, particularly those in vulnerable situations,’ Mr Morrison said in Cairns on Thursday.
The flights from London and India are expected to be among the first to bring people to quarantine in the NT.
About 1,000 Aussies a month are expected be flown on charter flights to an RAAF base and then taken to Howard Springs quarantine facility for 14 days of isolation.
The returning passengers will likely be asked to pay some of the cost of their tickets, possibly up to $2,000.
About 1,000 Aussies a month are expected be flown on about eight Qantas charter flights to an RAAF base
The Prime Minister (right) was stranded in Cairns on Thursday night, forcing Friday’s National Cabinet meeting to be cancelled
The will also have to pay to quarantine at Howard Springs – which currently costs $2,500 per person – but a loan scheme will available for anyone who can’t foot the bill.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese accused the Federal Government of taking too long to act on people stranded overseas.
‘This is a disgrace and that should be the priority, not another photo op for the prime minister to pretend that something’s happening where nothing actually eventuates,’ he said during a visit to Newcastle.
When national cabinet does meet, the definition of a coronavirus hotspot is expected to be on the agenda.
The Federal Government wants states and territories to adopt its benchmark of a three-day average of 10 COVID-19 cases in major cities.
Mr Morrison said Australia’s chief medical officer designed the definition.
‘It wasn’t dreamed up by, you know a couple of Treasury officials, it was by Professor Paul Kelly, who’s an epidemiologist,’ the prime minister told Cairns radio 4CA.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and wife Jenny board an RAAF aircraft at Sydney Airport
Australian residents returning from India are ushered towards waiting buses for the beginning of their 14-day mandatory quarantine
Meanwhile, New Zealanders will be able to travel to NSW, the ACT and Northern Territory from Friday without quarantining under a one-way travel bubble arrangement that excludes Australians.
Kiwis will have to quarantine for two weeks when they return home.
Elsewhere, Victoria recorded six new cases on Thursday, pushing Melbourne’s two-week rolling average down to 8.6.
Premier Daniel Andrews will on Sunday outline which restrictions will be eased as exasperated Melburnians eye the end of a prolonged harsh lockdown.
NSW health authorities are hopeful increased testing will allow them to get on top of the disease being spread across Sydney.
The state recorded 11 new cases, including six which were locally acquired, on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Western Australia’s chief health officer Andy Robertson has advised the state’s border closures should be reviewed on October 28.
Dr Robertson said he was open to considering travel bubbles with other jurisdictions that had also gone at least 28 days without community spread, which currently excludes NSW and Victoria.