28 August 2020
Scott Morrison’s comments in response to media reports today have increased confusion for Australians stranded overseas, and exposed the Government’s lack of a plan to help them get to safety.
The Morrison Government’s rush to make an announcement on travel restrictions with no plan for follow through has left 18,800 Australians stranded in increasingly perilous circumstances overseas – including 2,800 classified by the Government as “vulnerable”.
It’s been a week since Scott Morrison said he’d asked senior ministers for “ideas” to help stranded Australians – and six weeks since caps on returning Australians deepened the existing crisis for Australians struggling to get home.
For weeks, Australians have been telling the Morrison Government that they are getting bumped from flights unless they buy business class tickets.
Today, The Australian reports that even business class passengers are having their tickets cancelled – and need to buy first class tickets instead.
And the Sydney Morning Herald reveals that consular officers are telling stranded Australians who have run out of money due to price gouging and un-refunded flights, to set-up GoFundMe fundraising campaigns – or ask their sporting club or church to pay their way home.
Another suggested “option” has been to raid their retirement savings through the Government’s early access to superannuation scheme.
Meanwhile, we’re seeing cases of special exemptions from restrictions for people with connections to the Morrison Government. One entrepreneur was allowed to travel to Italy to pick up his luxury yacht – and former prime minister Tony Abbott was allowed to fly to London for a breakfast meeting about a plum job with a foreign government.
We urge the Government to offer financial support to Australians who need it, and engage with airlines to stop the price gouging and insist refunds be paid immediately.
Labor supports measures such as arrival caps which ensure the integrity of the quarantine system. These decisions should be made based on the advice of the experts.
But what we don’t support is a two tiered approach with special treatment for the privileged few, and everyone else being left behind.
We need for an urgent plan to help those who have been stranded as a result of policy changes.
Today’s stories once again prove the Morrison Government is more focused on headlines than helping people.
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.