'Incredibly frustrating': Australians still stranded overseas despite international cap agreement

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

The West Australian government says it won't raise its cap on international arrivals but would support a Commonwealth-managed quarantine facility, as the number of Australians stuck overseas and trying to get home has climbed to more than 25,000.

More than a week since national cabinet agreed to raise the cap on international arrivals, little progress has been made, although the Queensland premier has signalled her state could take more arrivals.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian called on other states to do more to get Australians home on Monday, saying to take more in her own state would put too much pressure on the hotel quarantine system.

"We know the hotel quarantine system in NSW is managed well but we are doing so much more than the other states combined," Ms Berejiklian said.

"I just say to the other states 'I'm sure many of our Aussies overseas wouldn't mind flying into Brisbane or Perth or even Adelaide and then getting a domestic flight back to their homes'."

NSW takes 2450 passengers a week from overseas into hotel quarantine, while there is a limit of 525 people flying into Perth and a limit of 500 each in Brisbane and Adelaide. There are fears that with just under 4000 Australians able to fly home each week and the number wanting to return rising, that many Australians will be stuck for months, including post-Christmas.

"Where we can take some more, I think we should because I think it is really important that overseas families can also come home during this global pandemic time," Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Monday.

West Australia Health Minister Roger Cook said the federal government was responsible for helping Australians to get home and WA would do what it could to help within its means and within its cap.

"Western Australia would support a plan by the federal government that would include additional international arrivals into a Commonwealth managed quarantine facility," he told The Canberra Times.

"This would help bring more Australians home and will ensure the state government's hotel quarantine system is not under undue pressure and vulnerable to problems like those previously experienced in Victoria."

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After the last national cabinet meeting on September 4, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said states agreed capacity needed to be boosted, and even name-dropped places like Canberra, Darwin and Tasmania as possible places for flights to land.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has since said the ACT would be unlikely to take international flights and Tasmania Premier Peter Gutwein has said the state would need federal government support to give Hobart airport capacity to take international arrivals.

Northern Territory Health Minister Natasha Fyles said on Monday talks were under way with the federal government about greater use of the Howard Springs facility, which can take up to 3000 people, for quarantining overseas arrivals.

"It is really difficult for Australians caught up overseas, incredibly frustrating," she said.

"We've all heard the stories of people inadvertently caught up and now stuck in countries where there is no flight, or if there are they are hugely expensive."

- with AAP

This story States call on federal government to do more on international arrivals first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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