Scott Morrison tells 30,000 Australians still stranded overseas 'you have every right to come home'

There are still more than 30,000 Australians stranded abroad, with the worsening situation in the UK and changing work conditions driving repatriation requests.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Friday, 11 December 11.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Friday, 11 December 11. Source: AAP

Scott Morrison has sought to assure Australians stranded overseas this Christmas that he is determined to bring them home.

There are now more than 30,000 Australians seeking to return from overseas.

The worsening coronavirus situation in the United Kingdom and changing work conditions has driven a spike in repatriation requests.

Almost 10,000 people are looking to come to Australia from India and another 4500 from the UK.

The prime minister sent a message to Australians overseas during an interview on the Seven Network.

"We are looking to get you home as soon as we possible and that is what the record shows. We know you want to come home and you have every right to come home," Mr Morrison said on Wednesday.

"You are Australian and you are my first priority in terms of people coming back into the country."

The prime minister is also focused on starting to roll out a coronavirus vaccine across the country by March.

But he says the national strategy, including which cohorts will get the jab first, is yet to be finalised.

Mr Morrison said health workers and others in "critical occupations" would be at the front of the queue, as seen in England and the United States.

"But the details of that plan are still being worked out," he said.

The prime minister also hosed down questions about allowing international visitors back into Australia next year.

Mr Morrison played down the prospect of widespread international travel resuming before June.

"We are not lifting international borders at present and we have no immediate plans to do that," he said.

An exception has been made for New Zealand, with almost 10,000 Kiwis allowed into the country since the one-way travel link was restored.

Seasonal workers from the Pacific islands are also being brought into Australia with on-farm quarantine arrangements in place.

"We're taking this very cautiously. The reason we've done so well is we've been so careful around our borders," Mr Morrison said.

"I hope that we can see international travel resume well into next year but I'm not expecting it, really, certainly not in the first quarter of next year.

"In the quarter after that, a lot would have to change to see that happening at any sort of industrial scale."


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Published 16 December 2020 at 11:18am, updated 16 December 2020 at 12:11pm
Source: AAP - SBS