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‘News to me’: Lone holdout as government seeks bring Aussies home

Tens of thousands of Australians are stuck overseas thanks to COVID-19 – but the effort is on to get them back home.

At the moment, the limit on international returnees is 4000 a week.

That’s not much comfort for Queensland father of two Aaron Fechner, stuck off-shore in Brunei and waiting on the promise of a flight.

A plane takes off from Sydney airport.
The return cap on Australian citizens could soon be lifted. (Kate Geraghty)

“Not ’til maybe November, according to the flights,” Mr Fechner told 9News.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said Prime Minister Scott Morrison needed to do more for the 25,000 Australians stranded overseas.

Sydney takes the bulk of international arrivals with 2450 a week.

Perth’s cap is 525, Brisbane and Adelaide are each limited to 500, and international flights to Melbourne have been suspended.

The federal government wants Sydney, Perth and Brisbane to each take 500 more, and Adelaide to lift its cap by 350.

The states have now responded.

An empty Sydney Domestic Airport in August.
The limit is currently set at 4000 per week. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has agreed on the basis that other states “double what they are currently taking”.

Her South Australian counterpart Steven Marshall has also agreed, admitting it’s a “significant increase”.

“We have got to play our part in the repatriation of Australian citizens,” he said.

Queensland is also on board – on the condition that the federal government oversees hotel quarantine.

“I would be more than happy to look at taking more Australians here, where we have the capacity to do so,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

Victoria remains closed as it deals with a second wave of coronavirus infections, with Premier Daniel Andrews admitting reopening was still a way off.

But Western Australia has refused to join the party, saying it’s been blindsided.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said he was “unaware” of plans to lift the return cap. (9News)

“I’m unaware of this,” Premier Mark McGowan said.

“This is news to me.”

There are 3500 Australians stranded off-shore listed as vulnerable – some sick and some homeless.

The National Cabinet will discuss the caps on Friday, with an eye to lifting the limit by the end of the month.

Source: 9News

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