Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the number of people allowed into Australia each week will increase by 2,000 next Friday, even though the Government is yet to get agreement from states that will have to house the extra people in hotel quarantine.
- States and territories have been asked to boost hotel quarantine capacity, ahead of the cap increase
- Mr Morrison says the decision to lift the cap is firm
- WA says it has been blindsided by the announcement
The Federal Government has written to the leaders of states and territories, asking them to boost hotel quarantine capacity, in order to allow more Australians stuck overseas to return home.
Currently, about 4,000 people a week are allowed in to Australia, which Mr Morrison wants raised to 6,000.
There are currently about 27,000 Australians overseas who have registered their intent to come home.
Mr Morrison told Channel Nine he was confident the states would agree to carry a greater hotel quarantine load.
“We will get 2,000 more people in, coming through normal commercial flights.
“They will go through the normal hotel quarantine arrangements. There is plenty of hotel rooms in all those cities.”
Yesterday the West Australian Premier Mark McGowan complained the Government had blindsided states and territories by announcing its desire to lift the cap without consultation.
“Ambushes like [this] should not be part of this … and they make me very, very, very angry.”
It comes as the Government faces growing pressure to bring more Australians home, with Amnesty International claiming Australia could be breaching international human rights laws that guarantee people’s ability to return to their home country.
“To get Australians home, the Federal Government needs to raise the caps they have in place that are preventing people from coming home,” Amnesty International Australia’s Joel Clark said.
“By raising it above the current arbitrary cap of 6,000 people returning per week, the government could have these people home in no time.”
The Government wants to see WA, Queensland and NSW each accept an additional 500 travellers a week, while South Australia has already agreed to lift its weekly capacity for international travellers by 360.
The ACT, NT and Tasmania have all been asked to assess their capacity for hosting returned travellers.
Mr Morrison said states and territories would be able to deal with the added demand for quarantine, particularly with Commonwealth supports on offer.
“They were all taking more than this before caps were put in place, than what we are asking them to do now,” he said.
“We have got ADF supporting all of those arrangements.”