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Australia Australians stranded overseas 'betrayed', says a man telling of months of injury, illness and homelessness

21:36  22 september  2020
21:36  22 september  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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He is angry at the treatment of Australians stranded overseas and wants the Government to improve its response. For months Mr Hargreaves had been seriously ill, basically homeless , and stranded in a nightmare Injury , illness prevents departure. At the end of the month he suffered a serious fall

Despite stranded Australians contacting his office – emails which the Guardian has seen – Michael McCormack, the deputy prime minister and However, Australian citizens living overseas , who heeded government advice to book return flights but who required several months to finish jobs and

a man looking at the camera: An exhausted Colin Hargreaves waits for the final leg home at Hong Kong airport. (Supplied: Colin Hargreaves) © Provided by ABC Health An exhausted Colin Hargreaves waits for the final leg home at Hong Kong airport. (Supplied: Colin Hargreaves)

Colin Hargreaves burst into tears at the Cathay Pacific desk at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam when staff gave him his boarding pass on September 3.

"They were all holding their thumbs up with huge, great big smiles on their faces. It was so fantastic. Even the director of the desk broke into tears. I was very lucky," he said.

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They feel betrayed . Tens of thousands of Australians are still stranded overseas . Credit: My business was Australian . We took motorcyclists to events such as the MotoGP at Phillip Island, the Malaysian MotoGP, and were about to expand to include the Thailand MotoGP, Tibet and Morocco.

For months Mr Hargreaves had been seriously ill, basically homeless, and stranded in a nightmare — unable to return to his home in Berry on the New South Wales South Coast.

Mr Hargreaves and his wife travelled to France to house-sit in January.

As concern around the pandemic spread in February his wife returned home, but he felt obliged to stay a few more weeks to honour his commitment.

Injury, illness prevents departure

At the end of the month he suffered a serious fall, cracking his skull twice and losing a chunk off the end of his nose.

He was told he could not fly.

As he recovered, more lockdowns were being enforced in France, his access to specialists was limited, and the owners of the home he was staying in asked him to leave.

"So my house-sit had officially ended but we were still in lockdown. It was very, very difficult. There were no hotels or camp sites," he said.

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Citizens overseas from India to Peru and on cruise ships fear window to return to Australia is rapidly shutting. “There are shortages in food by the end of the morning because it’s chaos,” Larkin said . “The policy of only three hours is mental because overcrowding happens and people fight over food.

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Now living in the back of his car, two flights he had booked to come back to Australia in April were cancelled.

Around this time he developed a serious prostate issue.

He had an operation on May 11 and was again unable to fly for couple of weeks after the procedure.

The operation also left him incontinent and in considerable pain.

Mr Hargreaves booked another ticket home in September which was cancelled a fortnight before its departure.

"Honestly, you just can't realise how difficult it is being there and you get this email suddenly saying 'sorry mate, you are not going home'. It is just so stressful," he said.

Flights cancelled, no refunds provided

With none of the cancelled flights providing refunds, Mr Hargreaves fell under considerable financial strain and was unable to sell his car because he needed it to sleep in.

"I felt totally betrayed by the [Australian] Government who did not seem to have set up any programs to get Aussies home," he said.

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In another attempt to return to Australia, Mr Hargreaves booked a flight from Toulouse to Schiphol in Amsterdam, on to Hong Kong, and then to Sydney.

But the final two legs of the journey were cancelled just three hours before he was due to leave Toulouse.

Abandoning his car in a field, he decided to travel on to Schiphol.

It was there that Cathay Pacific staff confirmed they could take him no further.

"I asked them to put me on standby and asked them who made a decision as to whether I went, and they showed me a letter from the Australian Government [saying he could not travel]."

"Then I went to phone the embassy in Amsterdam and my MP's office in Nowra."

On returning to the airport he was told the good news that he had finally secured a seat on the plane.

Finally back in Australia but still not home

Mr Hargreaves has spent the last two weeks in hotel quarantine in Sydney.

He said the experience has left him in a great deal of physical, emotional, and financial distress.

He is urging the Federal Government to act more quickly to help bring stranded Australians home and to shorten the quarantine time for those returning with a faster COVID-19 testing procedure.

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(phrase) to injure part of your body, especially your ankle, wrist or knee, bending it in an awkward way e.g. She fell and _ed her _. (noun, uncountable) medical treatment of injuries or diseases that involves cutting open a person's body and often removing or replacing some parts.

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He is also fiercely critical of the decision to charge returning Australians $3,000 for their quarantine hotel stay in Sydney.

"They are imposing a $3,000 tax on people who left the country before COVID was even known to exist. It just doesn't make sense," he said.

"I am looking at a potential loss already of over 10,000 euros [around $17,000] so you can imagine what I feel about the idea of having to pay a further $3,000.

"It is just totally unfair, you are basically being forced to pay a fine when you have done nothing wrong and you have got to get home."

Mr Hargreaves is considering legal action against the Federal Government for breaches of international human rights for denying citizens entry to their home country.

"They just let people down so badly, we have been betrayed," he said.

The Federal Government has been contacted for comment.

[Hearken embed]

Hundreds of dead whales spur on efforts to save the few remaining survivors .
The sheer numbers of whales stranded and dying on Tasmania's west coast is "horrible and sad" and while the stench will be bad, the sound of distressed whales is hard for the people trying to save the few survivors.Dianne Coon has lived on Tasmania's wild west coast for 25 years and has seen more dead whales than most people.

usr: 3
This is interesting!