Prime Minister Scott Morrison has spoken in a new video message about what Christmas could look like for thousands of Australians.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says that people stranded overseas could be able to fly back to Australia and home quarantine by Christmas, saying “we can get there”.
Mr Morrison commended the expats for their patience and endurance over the past two years in a prerecorded video message for the Advance awards ceremony celebrating the achievements of Aussies working overseas on Thursday.
“You’ve carried a very heavy burden this past year and a half,” the PM said.
“For Australians overseas it has been a very difficult and frustrating time – it’s tough.
“Living through a pandemic and being separated from your family has brought its own heartbreak: life’s moments miss that you will never get back.”
Mr Morrison told Aussie expats hoping to return they could be able to reunite with their loved-ones by Christmas, when he hopes home quarantine would be “widespread”.
“Our deal with Australians is that when vaccination rates hit 70 and 80 per cent, we do begin to open up. Australians can leave and return and Australians who are overseas and are vaccinated can come home,” he said.
“We want to have home quarantine as the primary and viable method for quarantine and the widespread option for people who are travelling or living overseas and wishing to return to Australia.
“The opportunity to home quarantine will be an important development.”
More than 40,000 Aussies currently living overseas have registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) as wanting to return home but can’t due to quarantine caps announced by Mr Morrison in July last year.
But the PM made no apologies for his hard border enforcement during the pandemic, stating his firm approach had saved thousands of lives.
“I want you to know that these strong border controls have been extremely instrumental in saving over 30,000 lives here in Australia,” he said.
“Your sacrifices have made that happen,” the PM told the stranded Aussies.
“You have saved lives by enduring and going through those difficulties – thank you.”
South Australia is currently trialling the home quarantine system which the PM said he hoped would become the “norm” by the end of the year.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Wednesday that Sydney Airport would be reopened to returning Aussies who used home quarantine once the state reached a vaccination rate of between 70 and 80 per cent.
Mr Morrison signalled to the expats he was confident they would be able to return to Aussie soil before the end of 2021.
“I know it’s been difficult but we are looking forward to welcoming many people back home soon – we can get there this year,” he said.
“Your place here is always there for you”