Prioritise Your People: Help Reunite Australian families
Prioritise Your People: Help Reunite Australian families
- On 2 July 2021, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a 50% reduction in already low international arrivals passenger caps from 6,070 to 3,035 passengers a week, to take effect by 14 July 2021.
- The Prime Minister’s announcement was a direct response to political pressure from certain state premiers in National Cabinet, and was not based on expert medical advice.
- The Australian federal government has not provided a clear medical or scientific justification for the reduction in the Cap. Nor has the Government provided clear criteria for the increase or eventual removal of the Cap.
- At present, the Government provides airlines with total discretion to determine how they will manage their passenger allocation under the Cap. It is up to the airlines to decide who is given a seat on a flight and who is removed from flights where the number of booked passengers exceeds the airline’s passenger allocation.
- The criteria used by airlines to determine who gets a seat are arbitrary and non-transparent. Although methodology varies between airlines, the decision as to which passengers remain on flights is often driven by commercial factors (whoever has paid the most).
- The Government does not provide any mechanism for vulnerable Australians to obtain priority access to seats on commercial flights on compassionate grounds. Further, the Government does not provide any mechanism for Australian citizens or permanent residents to obtain priority access to seats on commercial flights.
- Politicians, athletes, investors and other temporary non-Australian travellers are frequently granted exit and entry permits to Australia.
- In fact many non-Australians, including international sports players and actors, are provided with government assistance to enter Australia, while citizens and permanent residents are provided with no assistance.
- Many Australians are unaware of the fact that Australia’s borders are not closed to certain visa classes (such as Business Investment visas and Global Talent visas) who are repeatedly displacing Australians who are genuinely stranded overseas.
- Since last year the Morrison government has quietly instructed the Department of Home Affairs to prioritise investor visas over other types of applicants, including foreign workers in critical sectors during the pandemic.
- On Tuesday, 15 July, a one-way flight from the UK to Sydney costs $43,367 for a 44-hour journey. While this is the highest ticket price seen so far, flights are regularly appearing above $30,000.
- Many Australians booked flights to Australia before the Prime Minister’s announcement of a reduction in the Caps, with travel dates after 14 July 2021. As a result of the reduction in the Caps, many Australians have already and will continue to be removed from their flights. For example, an Australian who booked a flight to Australia in March 2021 with a departure date of 15 July 2021, now faces a significant risk of being ‘bumped’ from their flight. Passengers bumped from flights are routinely informed by airlines that the next available flight is months in the future.
- Government-assisted repatriation flights are few and far between, servicing only limited parts of the world and costing anywhere north of $2,000 per person. Again, there is no priority provided to vulnerable Australians, but rather whoever sees the email from DFAT first and can pay the fastest gets a seat.
- Upon arrival to Australia, a 14 day hotel quarantine is mandatory regardless of your vaccination status and is at the expense of the traveler, costing north of $2,500 per person (depending on which state you fly into).
- On March 25, 2020, a ban on leaving Australia was also put in place as an “emergency requirement” under the Biosecurity Act.
- If any citizen or permanent resident wishes to leave Australia they must apply for an exemption and have a compelling reason. To date, two out of three requests to leave the country have been denied. This comes amid reports of Australians facing huge hurdles to see sick and dying relatives overseas.
- Whilst international law recognises the right to leave any country, including your own, there is no equivalent constitutional protection in Australia. Therefore, Australians do not have a constitutional right to leave Australia.
- International law also provides that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his or her own country. The United Nations has expressed the view that there are very few, if any, circumstances, in which a government’s denial of their citizens’ right to enter their own country would be justified.
- Although, legally, Australians are still ‘allowed’ to return to Australia, the practical barriers preventing many from returning amount to a constructive denial of their right to return. For example, an Australian who wishes to return to the country between now and the end of the year is now in a position where they may not be able to book any flight that will in fact get them home, even if they can afford to pay inflated flight prices and quarantine fees. These difficulties are a direct result of the introduction and subsequent reduction in the Caps and in many cases temporary visa holders taking priority.
Despite countless reports of heartbreak and difficulty, the Government continues to refuse to prioritise their vulnerable citizens and permanent residents’ rights to return home. Many people are hitting their breaking point and mental health concerns are rising. Both those trapped inside and outside of their country are fed-up and demand change.
The people of Australia believe that their rights as citizens are being grossly violated and that their government has abandoned them in a time of need. We, the Australian public, hereby petition for:
1) The National Cabinet to revisit and revoke their decision to slash the Caps, reinstating them to a minimum of 6,070 international arrivals per week, and a clear time frame be provided for the phasing out of these restrictions.
2) The Government take responsibility for its decisions by actively managing and publicly reporting on who is given priority to exit and enter Australia on commercial flights. Managed by the Government (and not the airlines) - Australian citizens and permanent residents, and their immediate families, are to be given priority on all incoming commercial flights. Policies are to be put in place to ensure that no Australian citizen or permanent resident trying to return home is bumped from a flight whilst a temporary visa holder or business traveller is permitted to fly on that same flight.
3) The Australian public demand that the DFAT repatriation system is made fair, transparent and just by;
a) Publicly listing when and where DFAT flights are flying from, ahead of time.
b) Placing all those registered for a DFAT flight on a public list from the moment they have registered, giving them a queued number and an estimated waiting period as to when it will be their turn to get on a repatriation flight.
c) Prioritising vulnerable Australian citizens and permanent residents on compassionate grounds in allocating seats on repatriation flights.
4) In consultation with medical experts, the Government expedite the introduction of home quarantine for fully-vaccinated travellers, in order to take pressure off the hotel quarantine system, and allow for an increase in the Caps.
SIGN TWICE ~ HERE AND AT PARLIAMENT OF AUSTRALIA