Queensland’s Deputy Premier has attacked the federal government’s overseas arrivals policy, claiming international borders are “not genuinely closed”.
Steven Miles’ comments came after genomic sequencing confirmed a person who was regularly travelling between Indonesia and Australia passed on the Delta variant of COVID-19 to a worker at Brisbane’s Prince Charles Hospital.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Miles said the Morrison government allowed the traveller to “come and go between Australia and Indonesia repeatedly throughout this pandemic”.
“Every month, about 40,000 Australian citizens and about 6,000 permanent visa holders are allowed to leave the country,” he said.
“Many of them seek to return … rejoining the queue, going back through hotel quarantine, putting our community at risk.
“It turns out the only thing that’s required to get a permit from the federal government to leave the country is proof you have a meeting in another country.
“It’s not good enough that just because you can afford a business class flight or a charter flight you can breach our closed international borders.”
According to Miles, the traveller has not been vaccinated and had been through Australia’s hotel quarantine “several times”.
“In fact, last month 20,000 non-Australians arrived in Australia… half of those on short term temporary visas,” he said.
“The borders are not genuinely closed and these travellers are displacing Australians who are genuinely stranded overseas, genuinely trying to get home.”
According to arrivals data from the Department of Home Affairs that was obtained by The Sydney Morning Herald, more than 10,000 travellers entered Australia in April to visit friends, go on holiday or for business travel.
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said Miles was trying to deflect from the state government’s own failures.
“We know there is an issue with people making multiple trips and we need to be very careful, and very, very clear that we want people to be able to conduct their business within the regime that we have put in place here for them in Australia,” Andrews said, according to ABC News.
Andrews denied the suggestion that a significant number of arrivals entering hotel quarantine were not citizens, adding that Australian Border Force data indicates 80 per cent of returning travellers are either Australian citizens, permanent residents or immediate family members.
Featured image source: Facebook/stevenmilesmp