Speech to Parliament - Australians stranded overseas

By David Smith MP

26 October 2020

Adjournment Debate

House of Representatives

Australians stranded overseas

Mr DAVID SMITH (Bean) (19:41): I'd like to take this opportunity to raise with the House the plight of two Australians from Bean. Steven Douda and Tenille Raynor are two constituents of mine who are currently abandoned overseas by this government.

The pair left Australia for the UK in early 2019. When the pandemic spread through Britain, Ms Raynor, a registered nurse with expertise in accident and emergency at Canberra Hospital, worked with coronavirus patients in temporary critical care at the Nightingale Hospitals.

Meanwhile, Mr Douda worked on critical projects, including the UK and EU epidemiological forecast models for the pandemic, while remaining an active reservist serving on exchange to the UK with 131 Commando Squadron Royal Engineers based in Bath.

They were also both part of the Oxford vaccine trial, feeling it was their duty to support this critical cause with great potential benefit to all.

Having taken unpaid leave from their jobs in Canberra, Steven and Tenille are now facing unemployment if they cannot return home soon. They first booked a flight back to Australia in July. They have also been registered on the DFAT COVID portal since it was opened.

Yet, damningly, they've been relying on Facebook and social networks to get updates on what the government is doing. As a result of this government's inaction, they now have neither employment nor a permanent living address.

They are having to hope for a series of flights on 28 October, with Qatar Airways, out of Doha. The couple are currently in Greece living out of their backpacks and in a rapidly deteriorating situation.

This situation is just like that of so many other Australians across the world who feel abandoned by this government. Steven and Tenille do not ask for any special treatment and recognise that there are other Australians whose need to return to Canberra and other parts of Australia is greater than their own.

This Prime Minister has had multiple options and offers to fix this, yet in classic Morrison style we hear over and over again the monotonous deflecting drone of, 'It's up to the premiers.'

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Vasta ): The member for Bean will resume his seat. The assistant minister.

Mr Howarth: The member needs to refer to the Prime Minister by his correct title.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Bean has the call, but he must remember that he must refer to
members by their title.

Mr DAVID SMITH: My apologies, Deputy Speaker. What our constituents want to see is fewer words and
more action.