Scott Morrison – PM under fire over stranded Aussies
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been slammed for failing almost 40,000 Australians stranded overseas after national cabinet decided not to increase international traveller caps.
Labor health spokesman Chris Bowen unleashed on the federal government on Saturday saying the Australian passport “used to mean something”.
“An Australian passport, that thing we carry when we go overseas, used to mean something,” he said.
“Under Scott Morrison that passport, no longer means you have the right to come home, when you’re in trouble.”
Leaders on Friday decided the caps on returned travellers, which were slashed due to concerns about the highly-infectious UK strain, would not increase until assessed again on February 15.
Mr Bowen has again called on the federal government to do more to boost quarantine capacity, which would help Australians wanting to return.
He said quarantine was Scott Morrison’s job – a claim refuted by the government which says it’s a state and territory responsibility.
“It is one of his key performance indicators and he is failing,” Mr Bowen said.
Mr Bowen said reports that the highly-infectious UK strain may lead to greater disease and suffering was concerning because thousands of Australians stranded across the world, in countries such as the UK.
“We need to ensure that the quarantine system is strong enough to withstand that strain,” he said, adding he was reluctant to see the number of Australians coming home further reduced.
Mr Morrison on Friday revealed Australia’s rollout of the Pfizer vaccine, pencilled for mid to late February, could be delayed as the pharmaceutical struggles to keep up with the demand while it boosts its production capability.
He said the vaccination start date would be “conditional” upon the delivery of the doses, which are coming from overseas.
But Mr Bowen said the government should have entered into more vaccine deals months ago.
“They cannot wipe their hands and blame the companies or the states or anybody else for not having enough vaccines in Australia for an urgent rollout,” he said.
Originally published as PM under fire over stranded Aussies