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Push to make international arrivals pay hotel quarantine bills

National

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has backed making Australians returning from overseas pay for their two-week hotel quarantine stay.

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Taxpayers have been picking up the bill for people’s stint in hotels since the regime was introduced to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

But Senator Cormann, who is helping put together a federal budget update, believes it’s time for people to pay their own way.

“There is absolutely a strong argument that on an ongoing basis, as we need to continue to manage the risk of people bringing infections in from overseas, that that is managed at people’s own expense,” he told Sky News on Friday.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is expected to announce hotel charges for returned travellers in coming days.

Other states are also weighing up similar arrangements, given Australians were first urged to return home four months ago.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will propose a cap on international arrivals to ease pressure on the quarantine system at Friday’s national cabinet meeting.

State premiers have called for a reduction in flights, with Melbourne out of action while it deals with a troubling coronavirus outbreak

Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said citizens and permanent residents would retain the right to return to Australia.

“You’re an Aussie, you’re entitled to come back to your home country,” he told the Nine Network on Friday.

He said the NSW government had indicated around 450 people a day would be its preferred limit, while WA wants fewer numbers.

Between June 7 and July 7 there were 28,069 international arrivals.

Victoria recorded 165 of Australia’s 182 new cases of the disease on Thursday, with the source of 135 under investigation.

Dealing with the spike in cases is top of national cabinet’s agenda.

State and territory leaders will also discuss a snap review of hotel quarantine arrangements.

Health officials have examined the issue after the outbreak in Melbourne was linked to infection control breaches among hotel security.

But senior Morrison government figures have been careful not to blame Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews for the disastrous bungle.

Mr Tudge said supporting Victoria to get on top of the crisis as quickly as possible was crucial to solving the outbreak.

“It is not useful for me as federal minister to enter into a blame game,” the Melbourne-based MP told the Nine Network on Friday.

-AAP

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