Recent media reporting indicating more than half of all international arrivals into Australia are foreign nationals is misleading, and is contrary to responses the Australian Border Force (ABF) has provided to journalists.
The Government’s first priority is bringing Australians home.
Australia’s travel restrictions and travel exemption policy settings support the return of as many Australians as possible by ensuring travel into Australia by a foreign national is limited by the exemption criteria.
The ABF analysis indicates on average, over 80 per cent of arrivals required to quarantine within the hotel quarantine caps are Australian citizens, permanent residents (PRs) or their immediate family.
Australian citizens, PRs, and their immediate family members are treated as ‘returning Australians’ and are automatically exempt from Australia’s travel restrictions and exemption regime.
PRs and their immediate family members arrive into Australia holding foreign passports. This is why arrivals figures reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) or individual flight manifests display a high volume of foreign nationals arriving into Australia.
There are also a number of passengers arriving into Australia who do not undertake quarantine within the hotel system used by returning Australians. These passengers arrive ‘above the caps’ so do not take up places for Australians returning. These passengers include:
- All Air Crew
- Any person (including non-citizens) arriving by air in Australia under NZ safe travel zone arrangements and who do not undertake any form of quarantine.
- Any person who receives an exemption from hotel quarantine (to isolate at an alternative suitable location) approved by the relevant State or Territory government.
- Groups of travellers who have private quarantine arrangements approved by the relevant State or Territory government (for example Australian Open, Indian Cricket team, NT Student pilot and the Seasonal Worker Program).
Inwards travel exemptions for the remaining travellers are provided in limited circumstances where an individual has critical skills, such as supporting the medical sector, or compassionate circumstances, such as to attend a funeral.
Australians who want to travel overseas should see Smartraveller (smartraveller.gov.au) and subscribe for updates for the latest advice before deciding to travel
Risks may include lengthy delays or the inability to return to Australia due to flight availability, which places additional pressure on vulnerable Australians who may have been trying to return home since the start of the pandemic.