Australians do not have a “right” to travel
At any one time, about a million people are working and living overseas. In 2019, a record 11.3 million Australians went on short-term travel, which is double the number of ten years ago.
COVID-19, however, has changed the way we travel and live overseas. Will we be able to travel as easily and freely again?
You may not have all the rights you thought you did
Australia may place great importance on travel, but this is not a right.
You also assume a certain amount of risk when you leave Australia. The federal government has warned that their assistance in a crisis would have “limitations.”” According to the charter for consular services,
It is not a right that you will receive consular assistance.
Australians do not have an absolute right to a Passport. However, in practice, it is seldom denied.
In international law, the right to free movement is recognized both within and outside Australia. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that
Everyone is free to leave any nation, including their own. This shall not be subjected to restrictions other than those that are required by law to protect national safety, public order, public health, morals, or rights and freedoms for others.
Australia ratified this covenant in 1980. However, no Commonwealth legislation enshrines the right to freedom of movement.
If there were, it doesn’t mean that legitimate concerns about public health would be overridden.
Homecoming is not as simple as it used to be
The Morrison government told Australians living overseas in March to return home.
It’s not as simple as booking a ticket and then getting on the plane. One thing is that the global airline industry collapsed, and flights are scarce.
Read more: Why airlines that can pivot to ultra-long-haul flights will succeed in the post-coronavirus era.
As part of Australia’s COVID response, caps have also now been placed on international arrivals. In July, the number of Australian citizens and residents allowed into the country was then reduced by a third, from about 7,000 to about 4,000 a week, to ease the pressure on the hotel quarantine system. This system will be in place until at least October.
Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister of Australia, said he was aware that this policy made it harder for people to return home. Still, he did not find it “surprising” or unreasonable. Rather,
It will allow us to focus our attention on resources required for testing and tracing.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade reports that since March, more than 371,000 Australians who were overseas have returned.
More than 18,000 remain overseas and say they want to return home. A Senate inquiry last week heard that about 3,000 were “vulnerable” for medical or financial reasons.
A growing number of news reports tell the stories of Australians stranded abroad. Many are desperately trying to return due to financial and personal issues.
There are more than 18,000 Australians who want to return home. www.shutterstock.com
Many people have complained about the difficulties of returning home, including the lack of flights and affordable tickets – some reports say that tickets can cost up to A$20,000. Others have mentioned the strict border controls required to leave the country in which they are currently located, as well as the cost of quarantining once they return.
The closure of internal borders within Australia has added another level of complexity.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Friday that the Morrison government is drafting new plans for evacuating Australians who are stuck abroad.
The Australian government is limited in its options for helping the people of Australia. And the few choices that they have are not easy. The Australian government can charter cruise ships or flights, but it isn’t easy to do because they need agreements with host countries and available planes.
It is not easy to leave Australia.
The Australians stuck in Australia are less visible but still very worrying from the rights point of view. In general, a state should allow its citizens to leave the country.
The coronavirus pandemic has led to a wide range of travel bans and a small number of exceptions.
Due to Australia’s strong international links, there are compelling reasons why people still want to travel, especially if close relatives are sick or dying abroad.
The Determination 2020 allows the federal government to regulate our movements.
Read more: Ruby Princess inquiry blames NSW health officials for debacle
Between March 25 and August 16, the Australian Border Force received 104,785 travel exemption requests. Of these, 34,379 were granted a discretionary exemption. Some perhaps more discretionary than others – entrepreneur Jost Stollmann was granted an exemption to travel overseas to pick up his new luxury yacht.
Travel needs to be rethought.
Australia has been putting a lot of diplomatic resources into helping Australians in other countries during COVID-19. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade announced in July that 80 percent of its staff participated in the response.
Secretary Frances Adamson has also stated that her department’s COVID-19 approach had to “go well beyond what is written in our consular chart.””
Before COVID, more than a million Australians lived and worked overseas. www.shutterstock.com
The Department of Foreign Affairs is currently dealing with a wide range of foreign policies. A serious question arises as to how much time and attention it should devote to consular services. What are the other diplomatic efforts that have been made to bring Australians back home costing?
Australians must accept that their government does not have to “bring them back” when they travel abroad (even if the government wants to). Under Australian law, Australians do not have the “right” to leave their country.