United Kingdom

Photo of Scott Morrison touching down in Canberra sparks debate

A photo of Scott Morrison touching down in Australia after a landmark trip to Singapore, Britain and France that secured a billion-dollar free trade deal with Britain has renewed debate about Covid-19 international travel rules.

The Prime Minister arrived in Canberra on Thursday night and went straight into two weeks of home quarantine at The Lodge, his official residence in the nation's capital.

Mr Morrison posted a picture of him being temperature tested on the runway after disembarking his RAAF special-purpose plane which took him to the G7 summit in Cornwall, England last weekend.

'Good to be back home in Australia', he wrote.

Mr Morrison posted a picture of him being temperature tested on the runway after disembarking his RAAF special-purpose plane at Canberra Airport on Thursday night

The photos of Morrison touching down in Australia after a whirlwind visit to Singapore and Europe has sparked debate over Covid-19 international travel rules

'I've just arrived back in Canberra after a very productive trip to Singapore, the UK and France, and will now undertake the required 14 days of quarantine.

'Also can't wait to see Jen and the girls once my quarantine is finished.'

Many congratulated him on signing a trade deal with the UK and 'securing the country's future', but others urged him to let Australians go overseas with home quarantine on return instead of expensive hotel quarantine.

'Can't wait to see my family overseas. Make a plan for opening borders,' wrote Sandie Smith.

'When can we do the same, go and quarantine at home when we come back. Or is this not for us?' wrote Fernando Estrada. 

Since March 2020, foreigners cannot enter the country and Australians have been banned from leaving unless they get an exemption for purposes including business or travel in the national interest, which allowed Mr Morrison to depart.

But thousands of Aussies who have family overseas are demanding the government relaxes the rules to let them re-unite with their parents and siblings. Under current rules, only spouses and dependent children of a resident are allowed to enter. 

Independent MP Zali Steggall and Greens Senator Nick McKim have tabled a petition in Parliament which has 66,000 signatures to change the definition of 'immediate family' to include parents.

Dozens urged Mr Morrison to let Australians go overseas to visit friends and family

Mr Morrison has insisted that his trip was necessary, telling Sky News: 'Well, this is essential. This has been essential. 

'This has been the first time when these nations have been able to gather together in person for some time. There was never a more important occasion for Australia to be around this table.

'This all impacts on Australia's interests. It all impacts on our security. It impacts on our prosperity, and it impacts on our well-being, our health,' he said.

At the G7 summit with the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the European Union, South Korea, South Africa and India, Mr Morrison rallied allies to help protect the Indo-Pacific region from increasing Chinese aggression.

He then flew to London and agreed a trade deal with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, which will allow Australian farmers to sell more products to the UK and let Britons live down under for three years without doing farm work. 

The agreement will boost the Australian economy by $1.3billion (£700million) and the UK economy by $915million (£500million) each year. 

The government aims to open the international border in July 2022 but will closely monitor rates of hospitalisation and death in nations that have been largely vaccinated against Covid-19 to decide if it can open sooner.  

'Also can't wait to see Jen and the girls once my quarantine is finished,' Mr Morrison (pictured with Mrs Morrison) wrote

The post sparked a divided response as many supporters congratulated the Prime Minister on signing a trade deal with the UK

Last week an image of Mr Morrison standing outside an English pub sparked angry accusations of hypocrisy as Australians face yet another year of overseas travel bans.

The Jamaica Inn hotel in Cornwall posted a social media image of the Prime Minister visiting their drinking hole for a weekend lunch, during the three-day G7 summit at Carbis Bay, a one-hour drive away.

'Pleasure to have the Australian Prime Minister and his 20-plus personal team for lunch this weekend,' it said on Facebook.

'You never know what you might find at Jamaica Inn!'

The Launceston village hotel's Facebook page was inundated with messages protesting against Australia's ban on citizens travelling overseas or foreigners visiting Australia to see family and friends. 

 An image of Scott Morrison standing outside an English pub has sparked angry accusations of hypocrisy as Australians face yet another year of overseas travel bans

The Jamaica Inn hotel, in Cornwall, posted a social media image of the Australian Prime Minister visiting their drinking hole for a weekend lunch, during the three-day G7 summit at Carbis Bay, a one-hour drive away

Mr Morrison was accompanied by personal advisers, public servants from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, along with Australian High Commission staff, based in London, during his pub visit on Sunday. 

His office also confirmed an official photographer and a press secretary were part of the entourage to the UK.

Mr Morrison's entourage of 20 staff was significantly smaller than US President Joe Biden's 1,100 personnel. 

'The Prime Minister is travelling with seven personal staff including his senior national security and international policy adviser, his senior defence adviser, a senior media adviser and photographer to manage travelling media and local media engagements, his executive officer and his director of programme and advancer,' a spokeswoman for the PM told Daily Mail Australia.  

The Jamaica Inn hotel, in the Cornwall county village of Launceston, posted a social media image of the Australian Prime Minister visiting their drinking hole following the three-day G7 summit at Carbis Bay, a one-hour drive away

The Launceston village hotel's Facebook page has been inundated with messages protesting against Australia's ban on citizens travelling overseas or foreigners visiting Australia to see family and friends

Melbourne engineer Kim Bernadette suggested Mr Morrison could have joined the G7 by Zoom like his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, whose country has recently battled a deadly Covid second wave.

'He could have participated as a guest via zoom, as the Indian PM did,' she tweeted.

'Double standards when Australians can't leave the country.

'It's tone deaf for Scott Morrison to be in the UK with an entourage of 20.

'Australia isn't a member of the G7.'

Mr Morrison's spokeswoman said meeting world leaders in person was better than over Zoom.

'The G7 and meetings in Singapore, the UK and France are a unique opportunity for the Prime Minister to ensure Australia is at the table with the world's largest democracies for vitally important security, health and economic talks,' she said.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson invited Australia, India and South Korea to the June 11 to 13 G7 summit, even though they are not permanent members of the Group of Seven nations. Mr Johnson is pictured centre with his wife Carrie and Australian PM Scott Morrison at the G7 summit

With the PM and not ordinary people allowed to travel to and from Australia, an English grandmother lamented at how she was yet to meet her two-month old granddaughter in Victoria.

'We last hugged our daughter who lives outside Melbourne in August 2019,' she said.

'We now have a grand daughter born April this year. When will we get to meet her? 

'How old will she be?'

A Facebook group, UK Mums in Australia, protested about the ban on permanent residents leaving Australia for social visits unrelated to work.

'I cannot begin to tell you how rage-inducing this happy snap is for our community and for everyone stuck here in Australia with family in the UK,' it said.

'The double standard of it all is astounding. Parents according to Scott Morrison (ScoMo) are not considered immediate family in Australia. 

With the Australian government expecting to keep the travel ban in place until at least mid-2022, Melbourne engineer Kim Bernadette suggested Mr Morrison could have joined in by Zoom like his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, whose country has recently battled a deadly Covid second wave

'We are separated from partners, children, parents and grandparents with no road map from the government when we can see them again.' 

The social media pile-on, featuring an image of that English pub, spilled over into Mr Morrison's Facebook page.

'All the left wing whingers are here,' she said.

In limited circumstances, Australia's Department of Home Affairs is allowing overseas travel for work-related purposes or for compassionate reasons like a funeral on the proviso Australians quarantine for 14 days when they arrive home, regardless if they have been vaccinated or not for Covid-19.

Social visits overseas, however, have been banned since the start of the Covid pandemic in March 2020. 

Scott Morrison's visit to England yielding a free-trade deal with the UK. He is pictured with his UK counterpart Boris Johnson outside 10 Downing Street in London

An English grandmother lamented at how she was yet to meet her two-month old granddaughter in Australia

Mr Morrison on Sunday, Australian time, defended the overseas travel ban after being asked at a press conference about his English country pub visit.

'What they can do is that they can go to sporting games,' he said during a media conference at the St Illogan Church in the UK.

'They can go to work. They can live in an economy that is bigger today than before. 

'That hasn't seen the terrible number of deaths that we've seen in other parts of the world.'

Asked when Australians would be able to travel overseas again, Mr Morrison said: 'When the medical advice suggests that we should.'

In April, 22,610 people flew into Australia for a short stay, up from 8,320 in March.

Of those short-term visitors, 16,320 came from New Zealand, a big increase from 2,060 the previous month. 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson invited Australia, India and South Korea to the June 11 to 13 G7 summit, even though they are not permanent members of the Group of Seven nations

A Facebook group, UK Mums in Australia, protested about the ban on permanent residents leaving Australia for social visits unrelated to work

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