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International arrival limits being revised

A limit on the number of Australians able to arrive home is being revised after a meeting of the nation's leaders.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says more Australians need to be able to return home.

Transport Minister Michael McCormack will work with states to see if flights currently set for Sydney can instead arrive in other cities.

Some 4000 Australians are able to return home each week under the current caps, with Sydney allowing the greatest number.

It's unlikely more flights will travel there, with Mr Morrison saying states had to help ease its load.

"We want to get more Australians home," he told reporters in Canberra on Friday,

"And we need to do that safely as well, and not compromise the quarantine arrangements we have here as well."

The limits are currently in place to ensure the mandatory hotel quarantine system is sustainable.

No international flights are currently going to Tasmania, but Mr Morrison said that state was willing to help depending on commercial flights being willing to fly there.

"I'd be surprised if they were running at anything other than a massive loss on every single flight," Mr Morrison said.

"And so to get them to go to places that would enable us to get more Australians back into the country, I think it would be very useful."

Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein said the state was not in a position to accept overseas travellers for quarantine until Hobart Airport is granted 'international' status.

"If and when we have an international airport that's adequately supported by Border Force resources and we have the necessary internal infrastructure, then we can make a decision about whether to allow some of those mercy flights to land here," he said.

About 23,000 Australians are currently trying to get home.

Labor earlier demanded the government raise the cap on international arrivals to allow more Australians stranded overseas to return home.

Opposition home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally lambasted the prime minister on the thousands of stranded Australians seeking to get home.

The number has jumped 20 per cent in the past fortnight, with 3450 of the stranded people considered medically or financially vulnerable.

Meanwhile, Australia's international travel ban has been extended for three months, with the coronavirus pandemic set to continue into next year.

Cruise ships and regular international flights will remain suspended under an extension to the human biosecurity emergency period.

The rules, which came into place in mid-March, will now continue until at least December 17.

Australia's expert medical panel - the AHPPC - recommended the federal government keep the measures in place.

"AHPPC has advised that the international and domestic COVID-19 situation continues to pose an unacceptable public health risk," Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

"The extension of the emergency period is an appropriate response to that risk."

The sale and supply of some essential goods are protected during the emergency rules, which also restrict retail at international airports.

© AAP 2020