SENATOR KRISTINA KENEALLY
DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
MONDAY 7 DECEMBER 2020
SUBJECT: Stranded Australians.
JOURNALIST: Senator, about the numbers – people dropping off DFAT – what’s the latest you are hearing about that?
KRISTINA KENEALLY, DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE AND SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS: We have been contacted all weekend by stranded Australians with stories of how they've been contacted by DFAT and then dropped off the stranded list, or even people who thought ‘oh my goodness what's happening’, went and checked and they're no longer on the list.
This looks like a Prime Minister who is attempting to cook the books, so that he can stand up in a few days time and say ‘well everyone who wants to come home has come home’. The reality is there are stranded Australians - 38,000 of them around the globe who want to come home, who've been trying to come home and they can't get a quarantine space, they can't get a flight on a plane and they're losing their jobs and their homes.
It's really quite tragic. It's infuriating as well. I mean these are our fellow citizens. If there's any Australian value than it's don't leave your mates behind, and especially when you make a promise like the Prime Minister did to get them home by Christmas.
He should deliver - not a slogan, not a marketing ploy and not a cynical scheme. He should deliver the planes and the quarantine spaces to get them home.
JOURNALIST: Are enough people dropping off these lists for you to be suspicious that that's what's happening?
KENEALLY: Well, I can't work out why Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has had a sudden flurry, deciding they need to contact all of these stranded Australians and confirm that they still want to come home.
I mean for goodness sakes if you put yourself on a list in the middle of a global pandemic because you can't get to your home country - you want to come home and your Federal Government should be showing the leadership to ensure that you can do that - that is get here and come home to Australia.
JOURNALIST: Does the list mean anything?
KENEALLY: You know, so many of the standard Australians say they just feel like what is the point of the list: ‘Are we on a queue? Is it moving forward? Who is determining if we get to come home?’. And really, I wish there was a queue. I wish there was the capacity for the Federal Government, to be able to say they're actively managing it. But they've made it quite clear that they're not.
For these stranded Australians it's half a lottery and half the Hunger Games. They’re trying to get a seat on a plane and get a spot in quarantine.
So when you see CEOs, wealthy business visa holders, celebrities and Tony Abbott getting to come and go as he almost pleases, you think, what are we doing here? Why aren't we spending the time and the resources and the leadership to get our fellow citizens home?