Latest News

National News

Territories could come to travellers' aid

The Northern Territory and ACT could be key to getting more Australians home from overseas.

One of the factors holding back the return of Aussies from overseas has been the fear of the hotel quarantine system being overloaded, sparking new outbreaks.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday it was possible the Howard Springs facility near Darwin could be used to quarantine returning Australians.

Mr Morrison said he would discuss the issue with NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner in Sydney on Friday.

"Marise Payne, the foreign minister, is leading a team which has been ensuring we get Australians home from overseas, and where that facility may be needed to achieve that, it will be," he told reporters in Brisbane.

The ACT is poised to roll out a plan to take in a plane-load of Australians wanting to return home every fortnight.

The national capital is currently managing about 350 people in quarantine, including foreign diplomats and people coming out of Victoria.

"Once the NSW-Victoria border opens and the risk around Victoria lessens we would expect those (quarantine) numbers to come down, which would then give us capacity to accept chartered flights to bring Australians back (in November or December)," ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr told AAP on Monday.

"We'd be able to take a plane-load every fortnight to come through a dedicated quarantine hotel."

The ACT government also aims to work with the universities to start bringing international students back into Canberra from January, lifting a pause in a plan announced earlier in the year.

This would involve students from the Australian National University, University of Canberra and the Canberra campus of the UNSW being put on chartered flights.

Meanwhile, Mr Morrison has talked down the potential for Australians to holiday in Europe or the United States any time soon.

Instead, he is focused on reopening travel ties with countries that have managed to suppress the spread of coronavirus.

New Zealanders will be allowed into the Northern Territory and NSW from the end of this week and there are hopes Australians will soon be able to travel across the Tasman.

Mr Morrison has also been speaking to leaders throughout the Pacific and Asia - including South Korea, Singapore and Japan - about resuming travel connections.

"We have had good discussions with them but I think that is a bit further off," he told the Seven Network.

"You only need to look at what is happening in Europe at the moment, where they are going through a horrific further wave of COVID-19, and of course we have got to be extremely careful about that."

Victoria recorded 15 new coronavirus infections but no new deaths on Monday.

The 14-day rolling average has increased slightly in metropolitan Melbourne but is stable in regional Victoria.

The national coronavirus death toll remains at 898.

NSW recorded one new case of locally transmitted coronavirus and five more infections among returned overseas travellers in hotel quarantine.

Queensland has notched up yet another day of no new infections and there are now just four active cases across the state.

However, health authorities are urging Townsville residents to get tested after traces of the virus were detected in local sewage.

© AAP 2020