So, after six failed bookings for Peter to return home, I reached out to my local Member of Parliament Dugald Saunders. As the issue for displaced Australians overseas is a Federal one, the matter went to my Federal Member, Andrew Gee. Is this sounding familiar? Yes, you guessed it. They said it needed to go to the Home Affairs Minister—Dutton. That was back on 11th September. After four weeks of no response, I reached out again. First, to Saunders whose office referred me back to Gee, whose office recommended I apply for an exemption.
I completed the application for Exemption from Quarantine based on Mental Health, nine days ago. Peter’s sixth flight booking is due to fly tomorrow, and you guessed it—they have not made a decision.
Peter has paid extra for business class—a flight he has had to wait yet another month to take. This time, however, there is an 18-hour stopover in San Francisco. This means the two-day notification by the Australian Government to the airlines in relation to final numbers permitted to arrive in Sydney, occurs whilst he is in the air. His government may abandon him in San Francisco, at the airport—for another month!!
I have spent more than half of my life helping others as a Special Education teacher. Peter will receive a commendation from the NSW Premier for putting his life on the line during the 2019/20 bushfires. We have given to this great Nation and our State.
Andrew Gee wrote in his correspondence to me; “All states and territories agreed to work with the Commonwealth to increase the number of international flights… In this regard and to address your specific questions about the cap levels, I have written to the Hon Peter Dutton MP, Minister for Home Affairs, and asked that he address your concerns directly.”
I have not received correspondence from Dutton’s office. Nor, despite NSW Premier Berejiklian’s comments regarding concerns over the mental health of the population during Covid19 and October being Mental Health month, received a decision from NSW Health.
I, therefore, challenge everyone abandoned overseas and trying to return home to apply to NSW Health for Exemption from Hotel Quarantine thereby removing the cap on your flight ticket:
All of you would meet the compassionate grounds criteria, being abandoned by your country and apart from your family for months.I wonder how many of you get a response!!