A blame game has erupted between Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk over who withdrew permission for a repatriation charter flight from Laos to land in Cairns.
Mr Morrison called the decision “disappointing” and said the blame fell on the shoulders of the Queensland government.
But Ms Palaszczuk batted that back, saying international flights were a Federal issue.
The charter flight the Laos capital Vientiane to Cairns was to bring 40 Australians home.
Permission for the flight to land was withdrawn by the Queensland government, according to a notice posted on Australia in Laos Facebook page.
After the national cabinet meeting on Friday, Mr Morrison was asked if he knew why permission for the charter flight had been cancelled, leaving 40 Australians searching for another way to return home.
“That is something you need to raise with the Queensland government because I understand that is where the issue ultimately prevented that flight from coming to Australia,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra.
“I understand it was supposed to land in Cairns … it had other clearances in place.
“It’s disappointing to hear about the arrangement up there in Cairns.”
Ms Palaszczuk, while saying she was not fully aware of the issue, put the blame on the federal government, saying there were there no issues with the flight coming to Queensland.
“You have to ask the federal government, international arrivals are a matter for the federal government,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“There’s no reason why they can’t come to Brisbane … I’m not in control of international coming in.
“I’m happy to get you more details.”
Ms Palaszczuk said the state was doing its bit to assist with the repatriation of Queenslanders with the monthly cap for international arrivals being raised from 1000 to 1150 following Friday’s national cabinet meeting.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says it was the federal government that withdrew permission for a charter flight from Laos to land in Cairns. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Dan Peled
Organisers of the flight from Laos to Cairns were scrambling to find another route with the possibility of travelling from Vientianne to Cairns via Kuala Lumpur and Singapore on Tuesday.
“The proposed charter flight from Vientiane to Cairns on 27 October 2020 has received approval from authorities in Australia, Singapore and Malaysia,” the Facebook post stated.
“The flight is yet to receive approval from the Government of Laos.”