Bolstering quarantine facilities must be priority to allow more open, safe Australian borders

Bolstering Australia’s quarantine facilities to allow Australians to come home or reunite with family overseas must be the Federal Government’s urgent priority, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

“The government is concentrating on the blunt instrument of a travel ban and, most recently, sensational criminal sanctions but needs to focus its attention on improving quarantine facilities,” said Mr Joseph Wheeler, aviation lawyer and spokesperson for the ALA. “Extreme border closures are causing serious distress for many families and these severe travel bans have gone on too long.

“There are options beyond hotel quarantine that do not seem to have been fully explored. There are other facilities, like the Howard Springs mining camp, that could be utilised or purpose-built facilities should be considered.

“We cannot allow the government to create an all-pervasive state of anxiety for its citizens by preventing them from returning to their home country, or prevent them from uniting with family overseas, in a time of pressing social and health need.

“Australia is dealing with a major health crisis but this must not divide our citizens into two classes – those who are living overseas or have family they need to assist in another country, and those who currently live in Australia.

“Comments from politicians that indicate that borders could remain closed for months or years yet do not give confidence that we are working towards better quarantine facilities that will allow for the repatriation of all of our citizens and allow others to travel internationally to reunite with family.

“Lowering the caps on inbound travellers and cutting off citizens even temporarily during a pandemic when more proportionate and appropriate alternatives exist is repugnant, and breaches Australia’s international obligations and commitments.

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