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International flights cap to be lifted

Up to 2000 extra Australians will be allowed back into the country each week under changes to flight caps, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack announced on Wednesday.

At least 25,000 Australians, including up to 3000 deemed vulnerable, are stranded overseas.

“It has been a difficult situation for some trying to get home and we have acknowledged that,” Mr McCormack told reporters in Wagga Wagga, NSW.

“We want those returning Australians to be able to do so … I want to raise that to 6000.

“I have written to premiers and chief ministers to make that possible so that we can bring home 2000 more.”

The Federal Government reduced the number of incoming flights in August to 4000 passengers a week in a bid to ease pressure on state and territory quarantine facilities until October 24.

NSW is taking the brunt of the arrivals at 350 passengers a day, while Perth is accepting 525 a week.

Brisbane and Adelaide have a limit of 500 passengers a week.

“We will increase the number of Australians coming into Sydney by 500,” Mr McCormack said.

“As well 500 more will be coming into Queensland and I urge and encourage (Premier) Annastacia Palaszczuk to look at the Gold Coast and Cairns.

“Likewise, WA is increasing its capacity by 500; SA about 360.”

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall told ABC’s Radio National on Wednesday he would be willing to raise this to 800 a week.

Hobart is not currently taking any international arrivals, and the suspension of international flights into Melbourne will continue.

Mr McCormack said he would like to see as many possible in Tasmania, NT, the ACT.

“I have written to those territories and states to see what capacity they quarantine can have at this point in time,” he said.

“I want to make sure that more Australians can return home. There are some heart-wrenching stories.”

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese this week put pressure on the government to use its RAAF and private planes to repatriate stranded Australians.

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