Scott Morrison is urged to send his private jet and other RAAF VIP planes to pick up Australians stranded abroad due to arrival limits.
More than 25,000 Aussies are struggling to get home from countries like the UK, India and the Philippines, as strict limits on the number of people allowed to enter Australia have led airlines to cancel flights.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese wants the prime minister to take them home this month and has suggested using RAAF planes to aid them.
Scott Morrison is urged to send his private jet called Shark One (pictured) and other RAAF VIP planes to pick up Australians stranded abroad due to arrival limits
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his wife Jenny board a RAAF aircraft in June 2019
The Prime Minister’s Private Jet (pictured) is a converted Qantas A330 upgraded in 2019 for a reported $ 250 million
The Prime Minister’s private jet, which he named Shark One after his NRL team the Cronulla Sharks, is a converted Qantas A330 that was upgraded in 2019 for a reported $ 250 million.
Mr Albanese said sending RAAF jets to take home vulnerable Aussies is a ‘practical’ solution.
“There is something very practical he can do because the RAAF VIP fleet is largely stationary,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
We hear stories of desperate people flooding electoral offices across the country. We have a woman with a one-year-old child who has to go to a homeless shelter, ”he said.
Shark One: Scomo’s 100-seat private jet
Named ‘Shark One’ after Mr Morrison’s beloved NRL team, the Cronulla Sharks, the KC30-A tanker is a welcome improvement for the Prime Minister and his retinue and can now travel from Australia to Russia in one trip.
The aircraft is a previous commercial A330 from Qantas and Jetstar, purchased by Airbus in 2015 and converted by Airbus into a cargo ship and air-to-air tank.
Shark One has a custom interior and can comfortably accommodate more than 100 passengers in a reclining configuration.
“We have women who are about to give birth, desperate to go home. The government has access to these planes. ‘
Mr Albanese said the RAAF planes are flying around empty while pilots are training and that they could be used for rescue flights to ‘bring home a hundred at a time from Europe’.
He also said the government would have to pay Qantas and Virgin to fly people home.
It is simply unacceptable that the Prime Minister continues to say he cannot do anything about it and he hopes that these families will be home by Christmas.
“Well, I think those who are desperate to go home should be taken home in September,” he said.
The government is working with states and territories to increase arrival limits, allowing airlines to offer only first and business class seats to minimize losses.
The caps were introduced to ease pressure on states’ hotel quarantine systems, but Mr Albanese said the government could use federal facilities.
He said, “All that’s missing here isn’t the hotel space, it’s leadership.”
Western Australia has joined calls for a federal quarantine facility for returning Australians after the Northern Territory said it is open to more international arrivals near Darwin.
But Michael Outram, the Australian Border Force Commissioner, said the proposal was not possible.
Early in the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government set up quarantine centers on Christmas Island and Howard Springs in the NT to house people returning from China and Japan.
Christmas Island is now used as a detention center.
And Mr. Outram says Australian medical assistance teams used to man Howard Springs are being detained elsewhere.
He said the doctors, nurses and paramedics were from the states and territories.
“Quarantine facilities cannot be operated without on-site medical professionals,” Outram told ABC Radio.
“At this point, I think AUSMAT capacity would be pretty stretched due to the need for the states and territories to run their own health services, plus other things going on around the pandemic.”
Mr Outram said the ABF is working with the states to maximize the quarantine capacity of hotels, with about 12,000 beds available at any given time.
“But it’s not enough if I’m honest,” he said.
“As long as the caps stay on while the hotel quarantine stays in place, it will be difficult to imagine a situation where the airlines are going to carry more passengers.”
Kate Biggers Smith (pictured right with a relative) is stranded in the United Arab Emirates trying to get back to Australia on a flight
Sheree Richardson, of Perth, and her three young children were forced to sleep on the floor of London’s Heathrow airport for three days after being banned from flights due to travel restrictions for the coronavirus
On Monday, Labor demanded that the government lift strict arrival limits.
Kristina Keneally, Labor Interior spokeswoman, said the Commonwealth should provide charter flights and place Aussies in federal quarantine facilities in the Northern Territory or on Christmas Island.
Current limits for arrivals abroad
Sydney – limit of 350 arrivals of passengers per day;
Perth – limit of 525 passenger arrivals per week;
Brisbane – limit of 500 arrivals of passengers per week;
Adelaide – limit of 500 arrivals of passengers per week;
Canberra, Darwin – passenger limits on each flight to be discussed with jurisdictions on a case-by-case basis;
Hobart – no international flights
Melbourne – International flights suspended
According to the constitution, it is Peter Dutton’s responsibility to ensure that civilians can cross the border and come home. And if they need quarantine, it’s a federal responsibility, ”she told the ABC on Monday.
Let’s not forget that at the start of this health pandemic, the Commonwealth brought people home from Wuhan, and from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, quarantined them in federal quarantine facilities.
“Now if the Commonwealth government really wants to get a stranded Australian home, they have to stand up, show leadership, and come up with a plan.”
Senator Keneally said that if she were in power, her “first priority” would be to bring home 3,500 overseas Australians who are medically or financially vulnerable.
Home Secretary Peter Dutton said on the ABC show Insiders on Sunday that he would “ like to double the number of people tomorrow ” if states agree.
Senator Keneally said sarcastically, “I missed the memo in which we decided in Australia that international borders and quarantine responsibility are the responsibility of the state. They are the responsibility of the Commonwealth. ‘
She added: ‘Is he a minister or is he a mouse? Make a plan. Come up with a plan to get these stranded Australians home. ‘
Health Minister Greg Hunt said, “If we can lift hotel quarantine numbers, we can increase the number of Australians who can return home.
‘We are working constructively with the states to do this.
“We want to make sure that every Australian who wants to come home is home for Christmas.”
Australians trying to get home have said they were forced to buy business class tickets on planes with only 30 passengers. Here a child is playing in the completely empty economy section
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