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State bid to increase weekly repatriations rejected by federal government

The Victorian government has been forced to revise a planned increase in repatriations after federal authorities rejected their bid to provide 120 additional places to people trying to return to the state.

The government had intended to increase the number of arrivals from 800 per week, to commence on April 8, to 1120 per week on April 15. Instead, 1000 arrivals will be allowed in Victoria per week.

Acting Premier James Merlino.

Acting Premier James Merlino.Credit:Simon Schluter

The government insists the setback will not affect the number of seasonal workers that will come to Victoria under its quarantine arrangement with the Tasmanian government. Under the deal struck between the states in January, Tasmania agreed to oversee quarantine for 1500 Pacific Islanders while Victoria committed to providing quarantine for an extra 330 Australians abroad seeking to come home.

The government said they still expect all 332 Tasmanian residents to arrive by Thursday 13 May – at which time the cap can increase to 1,000 international travellers on commercial flights per week.

Acting Premier James Merlino said on Friday the number was cut when the federal government informed the state government that they been unable to organise the intended Tasmanian repatriation flights ahead of international travellers returning to Victoria.

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“As a result, we have revised the caps on international arrivals coming into Victoria over the next month, to ensure we can safely accommodate both international travellers on commercial flights and the Tasmanian cohort,” Mr Merlino said in a statement.

“From Thursday 15 April, 1,000 passengers a week will be accepted into the hotel quarantine program, with 120 of those places available for the Tasmanian residents arriving on Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade repatriation flights.

“This is a disappointing outcome which would have resulted in an increase in economic activity for our state. We will continue to work with the Commonwealth and utilise these places as soon as this matter is agreed to.”

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