A stranded Australian unable to get home confronted the country’s former Prime minister about travel restrictions preventing her from seeing her family, at a conference in London.
Julia Gillard, who served as the 27th PM of Australia, spoke to an exclusive audience for the Britain-Australia Society at the Royal Over-Seas League on Friday about her work on leadership at King’s College.
But shortly into the panel Eleanor from Melbourne revealed she had suffered the loss of a loved one in the past fortnight but had no way of getting home.
The 31-year-old said she had to wait until a flight on September 4 because of the reduced flight caps recently introduced in Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The decision made by the current government means that the country will only accept around 3,000 returnees each week.
Eleanor asked the former prime minister: “If you were still in government or in opposition, what would you be doing about freedom of travel for compassionate reasons?”
But Miss Gillard, who said she was fully vaccinated and hoping to return back home for Christmas said: “I suspect I’m going to disappoint you with this answer because I don’t drop into Australian domestic politics any longer.
“I, when I came here, knew that I was running a risk, which I voluntarily assumed; I like you am aware of Australians in very hard circumstances trying to get home,” she added.
The former prime minister did not speak directly on the political matter but instead she said she did not have a “pressing humanitarian need to return” home.
She said she had delayed her travel back so as not to displace a person in more need from being able to secure a flight and quarantine accommodation.
She concluded by saying: “So I’m very sorry to hear that you’re here.”
The new caps on the number of people allowed into the country will be reviewed on August 31, but the federal government has suggested that they will likely be in place until the end of the year.