SENATOR THE HON PENNY WONG

LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY IN THE SENATE

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

LABOR SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA

MEDIA RELEASE

21 March 2020

GOVERNMENT MUST MAKE CLEAR ITS PLAN TO HELP AUSTRALIANS HOME

Through no fault of their own, many Australians living, working and traveling overseas have been stranded amid closing borders, changing travel warnings, and disappearing commercial travel options.

These Australians overseas and their families are deeply worried for their safety and welfare.

We commend the work of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s consular team, for the work they are doing to assist Australians overseas. But we continue to see cases of Australians not being able to access timely and comprehensive advice and assistance.

In Peru, which is in lockdown, Australians are being forced to fundraise to cover the costs of charter flights reported to be as high as $15,000 per person.

And Australians stranded on cruise ships are unclear about what assistance is being provided for their ships to dock, and for them to disembark and return home once docked.

We call on the Morrison Government to:

  1. Work with Qantas, Virgin or other providers to help Australians return home – and ensure the costs of returning home are not exorbitant or a barrier to travel.
  2. Expedite the processing of visas for immediate family members of Australian citizens who are rushing to return home.
  3. Properly resource our consular teams in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to meet the unprecedented demands to assist Australians overseas.
  4. Provide comprehensive timely information to Australians.

The Government needs to communicate a plan to help bring Australians home.

Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.