ABC South East - Stranded Aussies

ABC South East - Stranded Aussies Main Image

27 October 2020



SIMON LAUDER, PRESENTER: We just heard from Cansin Fricke Danis from Jindabyne, she is still stuck in Turkey despite moves last week by National Cabinet to allow another 300 Australians a week to fly home. She's not among them. It's among the issues we'll discuss now with the federal member for Eden-Monaro Kristy McBain, Good morning.

KRISTY MCBAIN, MEMBER FOR EDEN-MONARO: Morning Simon, how are you?

LAUDER: I am really well thanks for joining us again on ABC South East. What more needs to be done, every now and then national cabinet meets and lifts the cap on international arrivals. Is it enough to get all of these home by Christmas?

MCBAIN: Clearly not at this stage. Obviously more needs to be done to lift that cap. Cansin is one of many Australians who receive a compassionate leave pass to leave Australia so she could attend a funeral. And now can't get back to Australia which is her home where she has a job waiting for her - a home and family and friends. So obviously very distressing for her and many like her in this situation, and more needs to be done.

LAUDER: But obviously these decisions are made in consultation with epidemiologists and experts on how much our contact tracers can handle once people back hear in quarantine. So I mean, do you accept that these the cap is as high as it can be? Or do you do think that the government is holding out, that the state governments might be holding in?

MCBAIN: Well, we know that people aren't flying into all of the available international airports Canberra airport, for example, is an international airport and hasn't been receiving any flights, its currently closed a couple of days a week because they don't have the traffic to support it being open seven days a week.

Warren Entsch from Queensland is another Liberal MP, calling for the use of Cairns airport. And there are a plenty of quarantine options. I guess at this point in time, we have to put all options on the table because the numbers of stranded Australians overseas who are registered and want to get home is growing. It's now over 33,000 people. And these are people who have left the country on compassionate grounds to attend funerals and the like.

These are people who stayed put initially because that was the advice of the government if you're if you can stay where you are, stay where you are. And since then, things have changed for them. You know, they've lost jobs, or they've had babies and they want to come home now. And so I guess you know, we need to put all options on the table because at the end of the day, they're Australians.

LAUDER: Still on Coronavirus and Melbourne coming out of lockdown at midnight tonight. Does that mean the New South Wales Victoria border should open? Or do you support the state government's more cautious approach with the plan? The premier announced last week to wait a couple of weeks after Victoria's restrictions ease.

MCBAIN: Look, I am have been supportive to an extent of the border closure. Once we got the border bubble in place, it was obviously a lot more workable for people to be able to traverse between the two areas. But you know, I'd make the point that regional New South Wales and regional Victoria aren't or haven't been where any of the problems have been located. So, you know, I would be calling on the NSW state government over the next couple of weeks to really look to remove that hard border between the states. I've got business owners in Eden crying out for the border to be reopened because they potentially face a summer of cancelled bookings.

LAUDER: Do you want it to be open now?

MCBAIN: As I said, I think that the sensible approach is obviously to wait a couple of weeks, but I think after that we really have to figure out how we continue to live with Coronavirus safely because at this point in time there isn't a vaccine.

LAUDER: You have raised concerns recently about bushfire recovery funding under the regional recovery partnerships and pointing to the fact that Eurobodalla, Bega Valley and Shoalhaven. haven't made the cut. I raised this with the Minister for emergency management, David Littleproud yesterday, he said decisions around Emergency Relief Fund funding are being made by Emergency Management Australia, which is still in the process of coming to some more recommendations on that. Are you satisfied by that?

MCBAIN: What I would say is that the regional recovery partnership does actually run through the deputy prime minister's office. It's a regional development fund that was 100 million dollars announced for those regions across Australia that have borne the brunt of natural disasters. The deputy prime minister said that it was so those regions have impacted been impacted by drought, fire and COVID-19. And on any data available, you would find most of the South Coast and Snowy V alleys should have been eligible regions.

LAUDER: So, why do you think I've missed out? Are you suggesting politics is at play here?

MCBAIN: Look, I don't know. But what I would like to see is the data I know that the national bushfire recovery agency wasn't consulted over data for those most impacted regions. And my call was specifically on I don't take anything away from the 10 regions that were announced and I was really happy that Snowy Mountain was included. But the programe needs to be expanded because the South Coast and the Snowy Valleys are regions that need to be included in that regional recovery partnership.

LAUDER: Kristy McBain, Thanks very much for joining us this morning.