Interstate premiers are divided on accepting international flights diverted from Victoria, with SA’s Steven Marshall saying the rest of Australia will “take the strain”.
But NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says her state is not keen to take additional international flights redirected from virus-hit Melbourne and that they should instead go to other capital cities such as Adelaide or Perth.
Queensland has indicated it will also take international flights diverted from Victoria.
Mr Marshall says it’s perfectly reasonable for the Victorian government to suspend international arrivals as it deals with a worrying spike in coronavirus cases.
He says SA has already done an extraordinary job in handling the repatriation of about 800 Australians and Health Minister Stephen Wade says the state is ready to accept more.
“We’ve indicated we’re willing to take international arrivals,” Mr Wade said on Wednesday.
“We have various processes in place to quarantine international arrivals and that will free up Victoria Health workers, police and other officials to focus on other aspects in the containment of the outbreak.
“Other states have indicated they have offered to help share the load. It’s up to the commonwealth to allocate those flights.”
But Ms Berejiklian said her state already had done plenty of the heavy lifting with overseas flights.
“NSW has borne the overwhelming burden of returning Aussies on behalf of the nation, Victoria has as well to some extent,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“It’s fair given those diversions that other states take on those flights (to) Melbourne. Even today, I got an update saying over the past week, there’s been a 50 per cent increase in the number of overseas travellers in hotel quarantine.
“It’s reasonable to say to other states who’ve been able to live in their bubbles because we’ve borne the burden of these overseas travellers, ‘please share in that burden, we’ve already done 30-odd thousand’.”
In May, more than 600 Australians arrived in Adelaide on two flights from India to spend 14 days in supervised quarantine.
None tested positive to COVID-19.
Last weekend, another flight with about 260 passengers arrived from Mumbai with three people testing positive for the virus.
They have begun their isolation period at a local hotel.
Also in quarantine are about 100 Defence Force personnel who flew in from Butterworth in Malaysia at about the same time.
They all tested negative for the virus.
Also on Wednesday, Air New Zealand cancelled trans-Tasman passenger flights to Melbourne for two weeks because of the outbreak.
Air NZ was due to operate two services to Melbourne on Wednesday, but these were cancelled.
Although all its Auckland-Melbourne flights will cease until July 14, Melbourne-Auckland services will continue, depending on demand.