16th December, 2020
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has told Australians stranded overseas that they remain his “first priority,” media reports say.
More than 38,000 Australians currently overseas have registered to return to the country.
They have, however, been hampered by the cap on international arrivals, which is currently set at about 7,000 per week. The cap is to protect the hotel quarantine system.
In a message to those people on Wednesday, Morrison reiterated his determination to bring them home.
“We know you want to come home and you have every right to come home,” he told Seven Network television.
“You are an Australian and you are my first priority in terms of people coming back into the country.”
The government has faced criticism over its failure to repatriate Australians.
Greg Hunt, the health minister, said in September that the government was working to ensure that “every Australian who wants to come home is home by Christmas” on Dec. 25.
Earlier in December, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said that Morrison had failed to implement the necessary flight and quarantine arrangements to achieve the goal.