Department of Home Affairs now has an exemption form for COVID-19 travellers
A camel, as they say, is a horse designed by a committee. The same could be said of the COVID-19 inquiry form that has started today with the Department of Home Affairs. At first blush it enables someone who is stuck and needs to get overseas the means to ask for an exemption. It is found here.
And then comes the big BUT. The form is useful for those who have already booked travel and have a definite flight. Most people now wanting to go overseas to be at their child’s birth are not in that boat (excuse the pun). They have realised that they need to get over- and that they need an exemption before they can travel. If they had booked, chances are that the flight has been cancelled by Qantas or Virgin Australia.
If they try and book a flight now, the chances are that the airline will tell them that they cannot book unless they have an exemption first. Otherwise, the airline commits a civil penalty if it carries someone without the exemption.
In other words- the would be traveller can’t get a booking, and in turn can’t get an exemption by using the form.
I have helped clients instead by making representations to their Federal MP’s who in turn are being asked to make representations to the Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton. While this should be effective, it takes a lot of resources, compared to a streamlined process dealing direct with public servants.
I tried to sort it this afternoon by calling the Department of Home Affairs. I explained who I was, that I had many clients in this situation, that I was writing to a bevy of MP’s and that I would prefer a streamlined process- and be able to make life easier for intended parents- and the public servants involved. I explained that I understood that there was probably no one available to take my call when I called, but for someone to get back to me. After waiting a while, I was told that there was no one who could take my call- and to look at the Department’s website.
AAAAAAAARRRRGGHH! Intended parents deserve better.