Thousands of desperate Aussies will be stranded overseas for Christmas due to travel caps despite Scott Morrison’s vow to bring them all home
- Travel caps introduced in July restricted number of Aussies returning home
- Scott Morrison said in September he wanted to get all home by Christmas
- But since then even more have applied to get home, making his aim too hard
The prime minister in September said he wanted to ‘get as many people home, if not all of them, by Christmas’ – but on Thursday he revealed some will have to wait until next year.
The travel caps were introduced in July to ease pressure on states’ coronavirus quarantine systems after Melbourne suffered a deadly second wave which sparked at a hotel.
Baggage handlers wait to take the luggage of Aussies arriving on a government flight from Singapore on Thursday
A flight on Thursday brought 120 Aussies from Singapore to Canberra, the first chartered flight to the ACT as part of the rescue mission
Mr Morrison gave a virtual press conference on Thursday (pictured) in which he admitted some Aussies will be unable to get home before Christmas
The caps prompted airlines to prioritise business class as they struggled to make flights profitable, leading many economy passengers to have their tickets repeatedly cancelled.
When Mr Morrison aimed to get all Aussies home by Christmas, there were 26,700 people registered as wanting to come back.
Since then 35,000 have come home but the number trying to return increased to 36,700 earlier this month.
Mr Morrison said: ‘We are well on the track to deal with the scale of demand that we had at the time.
‘In fact, we have exceeded it in many respects with the number of people that have come back.’
But he admitted that his aim was hamstrung by the rising demand, saying: ‘There are more people who want to come and we just need to get as many people home as quickly as we possibly can.’
Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Services Australia is directly contacting Aussies registered with consulates and offering financial assistance to vulnerable passengers.
Scott Morrison has admitted that some Australians will be stranded overseas for Christmas. Pictured: Aussies flying to Sydney
Travel caps were introduced in July to ease pressure on states’ quarantine systems after Melbourne suffered a deadly second wave which sparked at a hotel. Pictured: Melbourne Airport
Mr Morrison said there have been 70 government flights and Senator Payne said $9million has been handed to 1,700 Aussies to help pay for flights and accommodation.
A flight on Thursday brought 120 Aussies from Singapore to Canberra, the first chartered flight to the ACT as part of the rescue mission.
Other Australians are being flow from London and India to the Howard Springs quarantine facility near Darwin.
Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said the numbers had gone in the wrong direction since the prime minister’s announcement.
‘More people are stranded than when he made the announcement that people would be home by Christmas,’ she told the ABC.
International flights to Melbourne will restart on 7 December but the city will only take 160 passengers a day as it tentatively restarts its quarantine program.
That will lift Australia’s weekly cap to almost 8,000 people, almost half of which fly in to Sydney.
Some Australians are being flow from London and India to the Howard Springs quarantine facility (pictured) near Darwin