In Parliament

Members Statement - Overseas Victorians

OVERSEAS VICTORIANS

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Mr NEWBURY (Brighton):

The State Government’s inability to manage hotel quarantine has not only caused the second coronavirus wave and the avoidable deaths of more than 700 Victorians but is also a major roadblock to overseas citizens returning home. Victorians have a right to return.

As John has written: ‘My family is facing severe financial, emotional and mental hardship and I fear for our future if this situation continues much longer … we feel completely lost and I am worried about mental health issues that may lead to serious outcomes should this problem protract any further’.

There are an estimated 25,000 Australians overseas, 20,000 of which have registered their interest in returning home with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The recent work by the federal government and most states, other than Victoria, to lift the weekly cap on arrivals from 4000 to 6000 has brought hope to people living in other states.

We know that the Victorian Government shut down hotel quarantine as an admission of being unable to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Victorians will never forget that when the Premier last managed quarantine he left the quarantine door open.

As Katie wrote to me: ‘I am disappointed in the way that Melbourne has handled hotel quarantine … Australians overseas should not be punished for it by not being able to get home in the indefinite future’.

The combined failure of hotel quarantine, coupled with a Third World-grade contact-tracing system, will be remembered as the biggest failure in public policy in our lifetime.

The State Government needs to provide Victorians overseas with certainty and give them a time line for when they can come home. Victorians have a right to return. The Premier cannot keep ignoring our neighbours who are stuck overseas and want to come home.

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