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Celebrities in Australia anger stranded citizens over 'double standard' - why George Clooney can travel and Aussies can't

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Celebrities in Australia anger stranded citizens over 'double standard' - why George Clooney can travel and Aussies can't Empty Celebrities in Australia anger stranded citizens over 'double standard' - why George Clooney can travel and Aussies can't

Post by Admin Fri 02 Apr 2021, 20:58

Wait - Julia Roberts is there already?? When they said 'filming later in the year', I took that to mean at least after the summer, not in a month.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-55851074


[size=36]Celebrities in Australia anger stranded citizens over 'double standard'[/size]

By Frances Mao
BBC News, Sydney



Published1 day ago


Celebrities in Australia anger stranded citizens over 'double standard' - why George Clooney can travel and Aussies can't _117715293_161268639_281180323358735_2963901524295594434_nIMAGE COPYRIGHTZAC EFRON/INSTAGRAM
image captionZac Efron was one of the first Hollywood stars to make Australia his pandemic home

It started with Zac Efron. Then Mark Wahlberg flew over, Matt Damon jetted in, and dozens of other celebrities followed - all to set up temporary homes in Australia.

More recently, Julia Roberts touched down. She's due to film a movie here with George Clooney later this year, one rather aptly titled Ticket to Paradise.

Because amid the pandemic, it does appear that half of Hollywood has fled to Australia, viewing it as a Covid-free idyll.

Life is good in a country that's largely eliminated the virus - people are freely enjoying beaches, bars, and nightclubs.

Most of the famous arrivals are here to work. Australia's government has lured over productions like the next Thor film with tax breaks.

Celebrities in Australia anger stranded citizens over 'double standard' - why George Clooney can travel and Aussies can't _117715291_154365982_2149280158539049_2152329222673046222_nIMAGE COPYRIGHTCHRIS HEMSWORTH/INSTAGRAM
image captionThor stars Chris Hemsworth, Idris Elba and Matt Damon at a party in Sydney

That's led to a bonanza of celebrity sightings, particularly in Sydney:

There's Idris Elba showing up on a concert stage; Natalie Portman buying groceries in Bondi; Chris Pratt partying in a hotel; and Efron lunching at a Korean barbecue restaurant in Chinatown.

The visitor book also includes Awkwafina, Ed Sheeran, Jane Seymour, Melissa McCarthy, Michelle Ye, Paul Mescal, Rita Ora, Ron Howard, Taika Waititi, Tessa Thompson, Tilda Swinton, Tom Hanks and Lord Alan Sugar.

There's also the Australian stars who've come home: Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban, Kylie and Danni Minogue, Rose Byrne, Isla Fisher and her British husband Sacha Baron Cohen.

"They're calling it Aussiewood," one local entertainment reporter told the BBC.

Celebrities in Australia anger stranded citizens over 'double standard' - why George Clooney can travel and Aussies can't _117796523_celebritiestoppicIMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS/GETTY IMAGES/EPA/BBC
image captionAll of these stars have been in Australia in the past year

But not everyone is pleased. One year on since Australia shut its borders, there are still at least 40,000 Australians stranded overseas.

Many say they've effectively been blocked from returning home. One group has lodged a human rights complaint with the United Nations.

"No other country has impeded the return of their citizens in this way," Sabrina Tiasha, who arrived home from the UK last month, says.


Why is this happening?


Australia's border restrictions have effectively priced out many nationals from flying home.
The government last year imposed a "travel cap" on international arrivals, aimed at reducing the risk of outbreaks.
It means flights to Australia, in many cases, are reduced to carrying just 40 passengers. The cap has driven up the cost flights and led to airlines prioritising business and first class passengers.

  • Australia 'unlikely to fully open border in 2021'


Flights from the UK to Australia can cost between A$3,000 (£1,700; $2,300) and A$15,000, forcing many to draw on savings and even pension funds. There's also the mandatory hotel quarantine fee on arrival: A$3,000 per person.

Celebrities in Australia anger stranded citizens over 'double standard' - why George Clooney can travel and Aussies can't _117600902_158310961_10222330878454298_4196193835151511191_nIMAGE COPYRIGHTSABRINA TIASHA/ FACEBOOK
image captionPassengers report that commercial flights travelling to Australia are largely empty

Finding a pre-pandemic airfare is rare. And even with a ticket, you can be bumped off an over-sold flight.
"Here is what I can conclusively tell you after six months: there is no system," says Ms Tiasha.

"There is no way you can really figure out what's going to happen or book a fight that will have a lower chance of you being bumped."

The government says it's organised more than 100 repatriation flights, including 20 this year.

But with tens of thousands of Australians still unable to get home, anger over the lack of government support has grown.

More than a dozen citizens stranded overseas told the BBC they've received little assistance from Australian authorities.

Margaret and David Sparks are a couple in their 70s who had been holidaying in the UK when the pandemic hit. They were trapped for almost a year.

"People are so stressed and fearful they'll pay any amount to get home. But as pensioners, we really have to think long and hard about the cost," Ms Sparks told the BBC earlier this year.

They had flights cancelled three times before they landed a rare repatriation flight home last month.

Celebrities in Australia anger stranded citizens over 'double standard' - why George Clooney can travel and Aussies can't _116748158_142143680_10158966873065349_5861142631718734138_oIMAGE COPYRIGHTJOHN AND MARGARET SPARKS
image captionJohn and Margaret Sparks spoke out about being stranded in the UK

On Facebook groups, stranded Australians advise each other to keep their bags packed. The lucky ones recall in detail how they overcame hurdles to make it home.

"Have your mobile OFF silent all night to get calls at any hour for a last-minute flight," one wrote. "Be ready to go in 24-48 hours notice."

Hundreds have posted for help. They wish to come home for desperate reasons: to care for ill or dying relatives; because they've lost work or homes; or because the toll of being separated from loved ones has become overwhelming.


Debate over rights


Some believe the government's policy is violating their human rights. International laws dictate that citizens have a right of return - it's a principle most commonly invoked in refugee cases.

A group called Stranded Australians Abroad have filed a petition with the UN's Human Rights Committee, pleading for intervention.


  • The Australians who are trapped in the UK


But experts warn that not much can be done without a similar guarantee in Australian law.
Prof Ben Saul from the University of Sydney says an extreme case - "an Australian who ends up destitute" - could argue the travel cap is unnecessarily punitive. Other experts say ongoing family separations could breach the rights of a child.

Australia could pass a law to make things fairer, like making airlines prioritise access for vulnerable citizens, Prof Saul argues.

The government maintains that the price of getting home is up to airlines.

"[Our] highest priority at this time is helping Australians overseas," a foreign ministry spokeswoman told the BBC, adding they had helped more than 39,000 Australians return since the pandemic began.


'Different treatment for the rich'


Still, critics argue the government has adopted more flexible policies for A-listers.
The government halved the travel cap in January, citing the threat of the UK variant. But days later it allowed in more than 1,700 tennis players, staff and others tied to the Australian Open.
"They prioritised a tennis tournament over their own citizens," says Ms Tiasha.

  • Tennis stars' arrival angers stranded Australians


Other controversies have arisen. Hotel quarantine is a requirement for all, but many stars have received exemptions.

Julia Roberts and Ed Sheeran holed up together to quarantine on a luxurious ranch outside of Sydney. Damon, Kidman and Dannii Minogue were also approved for private quarantines.

"The celebs are in their private mansions," says Andrew Hornery, a Sydney Morning Herald gossip reporter. "It's a very different scenario than being cramped in a four-star hotel overlooking a freeway."

British billionaire Lord Sugar flew in last July on a first class flight to film a TV show. It was an excellent experience, he tweeted, having only travelled by private jet previously.

That same week, there were reports of Australians camping at Heathrow Airport after being bumped off flights.
One woman posted a picture of her children sleeping on the terminal floor; they had nowhere else to go, she said in the post which went viral. It was reported she later secured a flight home.

"There is 100% different treatment for the rich or famous compared to ordinary people," says Kanisha Batty, an Australian woman who was granted a UK visa extension. She had joked that deportation may be her quickest way home.

Damien Eisenach, who is stranded in Peru, agrees it seems "a two-tier system".
"There's lots of support for tennis players and celebrities - zero support for people on the other side," he says.
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Post by Admin Fri 02 Apr 2021, 21:06

Somewhat awkwardly, Doughty St Chambers are on the job:

https://theconversation.com/should-aussies-stranded-overseas-go-to-the-united-nations-for-help-to-get-home-154372

Should Aussies stranded overseas go to the United Nations for help to get home?

February 2, 2021 3.10am GMT

Jane McAdam
Scientia Professor and Director of the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, UNSW

Disclosure statement
Jane McAdam receives funding from the Australian Research Council, including for a project examining internal border controls during epidemics.

Partners
UNSW

UNSW provides funding as a member of The Conversation AU.

The Conversation UK receives funding from these organisations


More than a year since COVID-19 emerged, there are nearly 40,000 Australians overseas who want to come home.

Amid mounting stories of people desperate to return for financial, family and personal reasons, Australians are stuck because of government caps on international arrivals, transit-country restrictions and expensive and cancelled flights.

Celebrities in Australia anger stranded citizens over 'double standard' - why George Clooney can travel and Aussies can't File-20210201-21-irlsho.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1
Prominent human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson has suggested Australians stranded overseas could make a successful complaint to the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

In his view, Australia’s caps on the number of returning travellers are a clear violation of international law.

There is certainly an arguable case Australia’s travel caps constitute an arbitrary restriction on Australians’ right to come home.

The UN Human Rights Committee says, as general rule, there are

few, if any, circumstances in which deprivation of the right to enter one’s own country could be reasonable.

But could a complaint to the Human Rights Committee offer stranded Aussies a quick return home?

Unfortunately, the short answer is, no.

The UN Human Rights Committee is composed of 18 independent, highly qualified human rights experts.

Among its functions, the committee can consider individual complaints. The Australian government has agreed to this process.

This means any individual can lodge a complaint against Australia, arguing it has violated its human rights obligations towards them.

But even though this is free and legal representation is optional (albeit recommended), there are a number of other challenges.

Two big hurdles
Firstly, there is a procedural hurdle.

A person can only lodge a complaint with the committee if they have already exhausted all domestic remedies. That means they must have first gone through the Australian courts.

The committee can waive this requirement, but only if it is clear the local process cannot provide an effective remedy, or if proceedings have been unreasonably prolonged.

The UN’s Human Rights Committee is made up of 18 experts. www.shutterstock.com
Secondly, the merits of the case are not quite as clear-cut as Robertson suggests.

There is no absolute right for a citizen to enter Australia — their entitlement is not to be “arbitrarily” deprived of that right. This means the right may be subject to brief, temporary restrictions that are necessary, reasonable, and based on clear legal criteria — such as protecting the general public from the risks of COVID-19.

What about the #AusOpen?
Even so, it may well be possible for individuals to argue their right to return home is being unlawfully denied. Australia’s travel caps are only justifiable under human rights law if there are no other, less restrictive measures that can be taken to safeguard public health.

So, the federal government needs to show why the caps remain necessary – especially when 1,200 tennis players and their entourage were recently allowed to fly to Australia.

Indeed, a Senate inquiry suggested late last year that the federal government consider expanding Commonwealth-funded quarantine facilities to help stranded Australians get home, especially given its constitutional responsibilities for quarantine.

Two more hurdles
A third challenge is that even if the Human Rights Committee did find Australia had violated its international human rights obligations, Australia couldn’t be compelled to bring people home.

The UN human rights system relies on countries acknowledging and rectifying their breaches, but it can’t force their hand.

Australia has a pretty consistent track record of disagreeing with the committee’s findings and refusing to follow its recommendations, especially concerning our treatment of asylum seekers.

A fourth challenge concerns the important issue of timing.

Even if a complaint were lodged today, it would take years before the committee could even consider its merits. As a matter of process, Australia would be given six months just to respond to the initial claim.

A glimmer of hope
There is one small window that could offer an earlier reprieve.

If a person could show that not being able to return to Australia would cause them “irreparable harm”, the committee might recommend “interim measures”.

This is not a finding of a violation, but an urgent measure to avoid potential harm. Interim measures are commonly granted to restrain a country from doing something — for example, to halt the deportation of someone who fears they will be tortured or killed.

The journey home has been made even harder for Australians by cancelled flights and exorbitant ticket prices. James Gourley/AAP

It is an open question whether the committee would consider interim measures as a means of getting citizens home. If it did, they would apply only to people who could show a risk of irreparable harm, such as separated children, those whose visa is about to expire, those without employment or a place to live, or those who have underlying health concerns or other compassionate reasons for returning.

And Australia could still ignore the committee’s request — although this would be a very bad look on the world stage.

Why it is still worth lodging a complaint
Still, what a case like this could achieve is a detailed elaboration of what the right to return to one’s country actually entails, and the kinds of circumstances in which it can be lawfully restricted.

The committee’s views on these matters would provide a valuable and authoritative contribution to the international human rights jurisprudence. This could have a powerful influence on how countries treat their nationals in the future.

If Australia was found to have violated its human rights obligations, then the committee’s opinion would also provide some vindication for those who have been stuck abroad.

Unfortunately, for those stranded now, though, it wouldn’t be the golden ticket home.
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Post by party animal - not! Fri 02 Apr 2021, 22:45


Mm, interesting article. They have the right man for the job since he's an Aussie,

but the reason the celebrities are there is because the Australian government

have attracted them there with tax cuts for the film industry. Handily they can

also rock up in private planes and afford to isolate.

Tricky one and whether George planned it that way or not he's not going to be

there for some time.

Wondering if this isn't true everywhere else in the world.....




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Post by Admin Fri 02 Apr 2021, 23:04

I suppose technically we're all still allowed to travel for work, which is what making a film with Julia Roberts is, but I can see the point of view of the Aussies who can't get back home. And yeah, they can fly privately and stay in private mansions so they really are quarantining themselves.
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