Government wants international arrivals boosted by 2,000 a week

The Federal Government is pushing states and territories to boost their combined hotel quarantine capacity by 50 per cent, to allow more Australians stuck overseas to return home.

Transport Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has written to state and territory leaders requesting that the cap on international arrivals, which currently sits at about 4,000 people per week, be raised to 6,000 per week.

He wants to see NSW, Queensland and Western Australia each take an additional 500 incoming passengers per week, while South Australia has been asked to increase its capacity by 360 quarantine beds per week.

Mr McCormack said he had also written to the leaders of Tasmania, the ACT and the NT, to gauge their ability to take on more international arrivals.

“Those letters are telling them that’s what they in fact need to do, and I’ve had discussions with them,” he said.

“They know, they understand, this needs to happen.

Mr McCormack said he hoped to see the proposal agreed to and implemented by the end of the month, suggesting Queensland in particular should explore whether it could further boost its quarantine capability by using hotels on the Gold Coast and in Cairns.

Yesterday, WA Premier Mark McGowan said he would be willing to boost his state’s quarantine capacity if federal government-owned facilities were made available.

It is estimated that 27,000 Australians overseas have registered their desire to come home with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The level of passenger intake currently agreed by the states evens out to about 4,000 entries into hotel quarantine each week, but data from the Australian Border Force shows the number of people entering Australia has slightly exceeded that in recent weeks, excluding flight crews and people with transit visas.

August 10 – 163,809
August 17 – 234,036
August 24 – 304,198
August 31 – September 64,624
September 7 – September 134,168
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Anthony Albanese says the RAAF should be used to repatriate Australians

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said the Government needed to examine federal quarantine measures, and repeated suggestions for the Government to use RAAF planes to bring home Australians.

“There are a whole range of Commonwealth facilities in addition to hotel space that Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory have all said they’re prepared to do more with some support from the Commonwealth,” he said.

But Mr McCormack rejected suggestions from Mr Albanese that the Government take a more proactive approach in opening quarantine facilities.

“We feel as though the best way the states can manage the quarantine is with the hotel situation,” he said.