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.”