‘Get them in detention centres’: Jacqui Lambie

Australians desperate to return from overseas should be quarantined at Christmas Island, crossbench Senator Jacqui Lambie says.

Almost 40,000 citizens across the globe have registered their intent to come home.

But the cap on international arrivals has been slashed over the next month in an attempt to “manage the flow” of travellers who have been potentially exposed to new mutant strains of COVID-19.

Speaking on Today, Senator Lambie called on the federal government to show leadership because the system had capacity restraints.

“We’ve got empty camps out there, we have empty detention centres,” Senator Lambie said.

“I don’t even give a stuff if it is Christmas Island.

“If you are an overseas traveller coming home … for the safety of everybody else in the country, that means you have to stay in these places.”

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Her comments come as returned travellers and staff from a hotel quarantine site in Queensland are being transferred to another building, and required to isolate for a further 14 days, following concerns the highly infectious UK strain has spread.

Queensland authorities are now considering sending returned international travellers to remote workers camps for quarantine under a plan to distance facilities from the greater population.

The issue has again put Australia’s hotel quarantine system – which determines how many people can return – under the microscope with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk calling for an overhaul of the system.

But NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the disease was more likely to be transmitted in the transport to the accommodation than through the facility itself.

“I have confidence in the integrity of the quarantine system,” she said.

But Senator Lambie said stranded Aussies needed to get home as quickly as possible.

“Get them in those detention centres so we can get them back to daily lives and back in the country and get them working,” she said.

“I don’t think those in power in Canberra have any other choice.

“We have a new strain running around now that is a lot more contagious. We have to lift the bar.”

Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack this week said quarantine was a matter for the states.

“There’s still more than 3000 places available in capital cities and Sydney is carrying the bulk of those, half of those in fact,” Mr McCormack said.

“We can’t bring all Australians when they want to come home right at once.”

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