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Readers stranded abroad hit back at PM’s ‘blame’ letter

written by Adam Thorn | August 28, 2020

The first Airbus A350-900 commercial service to Australia prepares to touch down at Adelaide Airport. (Seth Jaworski)
The first Airbus A350-900 commercial service to Australia prepares to touch down at Adelaide Airport. (Seth Jaworski)

Desperate Australian Aviation readers stranded abroad have responded to Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s letter that appears to blame them for their struggles to return home.

Kathryn, a nurse working six days a week with four children, wrote in a comment how her husband in Portugal has had 15 flights home all cancelled. Chris argued he can’t leave Malaysia without facing arrest and detention, while Julie revealed her husband was in a coronary care unit before the international caps were implemented.

Australian Aviation has posted the most eye-opening comments below.

The restrictions limiting the number of Australians who could fly home at any one time were first introduced in July to regulate the flow of people arriving into government quarantine facilities and were extended again last Friday.

However, the new rules mean less than 4,000 Australians can return per week nationwide, which many have blamed for reducing availability and hugely increasing the cost of flights.

Officially, 19,000 Aussies abroad have officially registered their desire to return but the Board of Airline Representatives of Australia, whose members account for 90 per cent of international flights, thinks the actual number could be as high as 100,000.

On Friday, the organisation claimed it would take six months for airlines to take all Australians home within the current limits.


“My husband has been stranded overseas since the beginning of March in Portugal. He tried to get out when directed to by to the Prime Minister, but he couldn’t get on the mercy flights as they were booked out. Portugal was one of the first to close its borders – airports closed and there were no flights out of the country.

“His ticket to leave on 18th March was cancelled, and since then he has had 15 tickets all booked and cancelled at the last minute. Portugal finally opened its borders in July so he could get out and then Australia closed there’s. The Australian embassy in Portugal is useless and has not helped us one bit, telling us there is nothing they can do, they don’t get involved in flights, we have to deal with the airlines as if it’s their fault.

“Our family has suffered financially and emotionally. My husband’s business is ruined, our savings have been depleted we have no money left and I am a nurse working six days a week looking after the sick. I have four young children, am barely surviving on one wage as the government does not give us any handouts.”


“I have been stranded here in the Philippines since 17 March. I was about to return last April, but they cancelled all the flights here. How am I supposed to go back to Manila airport when I was stranded on the island? There is no flight, no ferries going to Manila. And when, finally, they open the borders, Melbourne closed its border.

“Easy for people back in Australia to judge. Try to walk in our shoes so that you’ll understand what all the stranded Australians are going through. All lives matter. Whether you’re old, young and stranded!”

“I left Australia for a work contract three years ago. Under Malaysian law, all those with work passes must get clearance from the government that tax etc has been paid. If immigration determines that you are trying to leave the country without this (i.e. with one-way ticket etc), then you are liable for six months imprisonment.

“We started the process to return to Australia in NOVEMBER. When the lockdowns came, the government closed down as well, meaning that clearance was not able to be obtained until late July. The Malaysian government has extended our visa until 14 September, after which we face arrest and detention, and have indicated that no visa extension is likely.

“Now, tell me exactly how we should have broken local laws to comply with the PM’s advice, and now he won’t let us in. What are we to do? We can’t flee to a third country, we have no visa or citizenship of anywhere other than Australia.”

“My wife and I are in Singapore and want to return to Australia. We have to two small dogs (we will not leave them behind) that have to be quarantined in Australia’s only quarantine facility in Melbourne as the government of the day shut down the Sydney and Perth facilities, even though they were warned at the time it was dangerous to do so.

“I know of several families like ours who are waiting till Melbourne reopens to be able to return to Australia with their pets. As far as Melbourne’s COVID-19 problems, you only have to look at Singapore on how to handle things, they’ve had thousands of passengers arrive, quarantined for 14 days, all passengers tested twice while in quarantine and they were guarded by the army and the police, no problem.”

“Fancy PM saying he warned us to get back to Australia, so those who didn’t only have themselves to blame if they did not return months ago. There are so many Australians who were not able to return at that time. Was my husband supposed to check himself out of the coronary care unit in a hospital to jump on a plane back?

“The PM justifies the terrible situation of leaving Australians stranded by saying he is protecting Australia. Is that the Australian trees? The buildings? Maybe the Australian people? Aren’t the Australian people overseas also part of his Australia? Apparently not.”

Comments (16)

  • Steve


    Why should I as a taxpayer fund those who may have to borrow more to get home. That was the risk of going overseas in the first place!!

  • Peter D Matthews


    I came back in March as any idiot could see it was not going to get better! Dumbos!

  • Shane


    Government has no Idea sometimes or maybe all the time

  • Nicholas


    You feel sorry for some bit it’s amazing the common thread is that they expect Government to be able to work miracles.
    This is the problem now days, it’s I’m in trouble and you have to help me and I’ll complain on Facebook if you dont…

  • Michael Perry


    Roughly 1M Australians living abroad at any one time. If they all came home when Scotty advised them to?

  • Richard Allberry


    Qantas is abdicating all responsibility in repatriating Australians.

  • Martin I Clementson


    We should not forget that this disease was introduced by those returning from overseas. At the first sign of Covid-19 in the early part of the year, it was time to return. Also many of those who returned would not adhere to self-isolation in their homes, and then found ways to escape the lock-down in hotels.

    At the same time, the price-gouging Airlines should be banned from Australia.

  • Well, let’s sheet the blame home to where it all belongs i.e. with the CCP. The lesson being don’t ever vote for a totalitarian regime, whether it be in the image of the CCP or any left wing political party pushing PC, exemplified by the current Victorian state government, who incredibly actually signed up to China’s BRI.

  • John


    My daughter was hit by a car in London and suffered serious injuries requiring three (3) operations …she had been working in the Uk and was trying to get home …she booked a flight , then the accident . These restrictions came in in July … What Scottie should she have jumped out of her hospital bed and rushed to the airport ..!! Probably to be turned away ..!! Or maybe she should be a Cricketer , or a foreign student or netballer …or better still a Morrison daughter ..!!! Our great marketing manager told us to “come home ” or else in mid March …he was lapping up the Cronulla Sharks on 29 Feb …no social distancing for our fearless leader …no country should prevent in citizens from returning …and I don’t know of any other country that does …its a disgrace and there is no reason we can’t handle people returning and quarantining , with testing to support that process …Have to stop now because I can’t stay polite …

  • Peter


    Scott Morrison either does not know or does not care about the plight of Australians stranded overseas for many months now. Family members in Australia are pulling their hair out after hearing of suicides overseas in some Countries such as India which is now experiencing the Monsoon season.

  • Peter


    We are suffering here also. We dont want anymore risks taken. I admire QLD premier with her control. I have lost 5 jouneys. Not complainig. People were warned but were ignored. Think of others not just yourselves.

  • pitot


    These “eye opening” comments really don’t help in any way and they lead to more blame.
    My first thoughts are what on earth were these people doing in the first place?
    Like why was Kathryn’s husband over in Portugal when they’re low on money and she is working 6 days a week and looking after his four young kids?
    Why did Chris take work in Malaysia? Because it paid more than working in Australia?
    What on earth is Allen doing with his dogs overseas? Who takes their dogs on overseas trips?

  • Ben


    Everyone thinks airlines for travel. When things are this complicated and expensive I offer two words of advice “Corporate Aviation”. Corporate operators can do a LOT of things airlines can’t or won’t. This includes getting out of places where the airlines have stopped flying (if permits can be secured… often can, this is how the repat flights operated) and skipping hubs entirely. When you have people booking inflated J class fares for their entire family in a bid to not get bumped off a flight the cost is not that high.

    Unfortunately protecting Australia means the borders are going to be hard to navigate for the forseeable future. COVID doesn’t select based on nationality, it just targets humans. The majority of the rest of the world is not in as good a place as Australia, and unlike those with land borders we have a large ocean border we can exploit to keep the virus out. Sadly the hard call in that is that to help the 25 million here not have uncontrolled COVID spread, 100,000 have to wait to come back. Unlike some other countries we just don’t have the capacity for thousands of returnees a day. Melbourne is also focussed on fixing it’s own issues before allowing any more cases back in (even via quarantine). This is not a uniquely Australian issue, Kiwi’s are also struggling with this as Jacinda has implelemented a similar cap system to ensure their hotels remain in capacity limits.

  • Andrew


    There’s only one person to blame if you’ve ended up stranded and really feel the need for blaming – and it’s NOT Scott Morrison

  • Mike Borgelt


    Lots of “Jacks” here. As in “I’m OK, stuff anyone else”. Does it occur that Aussies work O/S on contracts which cannot be broken, on assignment by employers, perhaps are caring for dying relatives, in hospital as a result of accidents, etc etc?

    All the lockdowns are going to be for naught as we must open up to the outside world and domestic travel at some point. Hoping for an effective, safe vaccine is not a viable strategy. Once the profile of those at risk from the ChiCom virus became known (older people and those with co-morbidities) it was no longer rational to keep locking down at vast expense and collateral damage (people dying of other medical conditions that aren’t being promptly attended to, mental illness, domestic violence and suicides, some caused by people’s lifetimes work being deliberately trashed by government) and just develop a strategy to protect those most at risk.
    Australia and New Zealand are NOT in a good position. The rest of the world will be back to business as usual and we’ll be shags on a rock wondering what to do, with our economies trashed and all for nothing.

    Before berating me, I’m in Australia, a citizen and in the risk age group. This will go down as the greatest ever failure by a large margin of all Australian governments, let alone the disgusting trashing by government of what few rights and liberties Australians have. Evidently we don’t have any really, just those our oppressive governments haven’t got around to taking away yet.

  • Chris


    Hi Pitot,
    In reply to your query –
    Why did Chris take work in Malaysia? Because it paid more than working in Australia?

    My wife works as a secondary teacher – earning about 40K less than she would in Australia. I’m unable to work (no work visa) so I volunteer providing legal advice to the 150000 or so refugees in Malaysia. In 4 weeks, after 8 cancelled flights, my wife and I will join almost certainly join those in immigration detention (because we are still here).

    Thanks mate – feel free to drop me a line

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