No special treatment for returning cricketers: PM

Cricketers flying back to Australia from COVID-ravaged India won’t take the place of others seeking to return, Scott Morrison says, revealing the NSW government has been compelled to accommodate them.

Players and coaches participating in the Indian Premier League fled to the Maldives after the T20 tournament was suspended because of the worsening crisis, and are expected to return to Australia in coming days.

The Prime Minister insisted on Sunday no one would miss out because of the cricketers’ repatriation when asked by a reporter about whether they had asked for “any special dispensation”.

“They haven’t been given any, I can tell you that,” Mr Morrison told media in Queensland.

“They’ll come in additional to the cap in New South Wales.

The first repatriation flight into Australia from India since the temporary ban was imposed last month arrived in Darwin on Saturday. Picture: Supplied by ADFSource:Supplied

“The New South Wales government is happy for them to come in over the cap; that is something we insisted upon and they were happy to agree with that.

“But they will come back under their own steam, on their own ticket, and they won’t be taking the spot in quarantine of any other Australian .”

Mr Morrison praised the NSW government for accepting a high number of returning Australians, saying the state had “done all of the heavy lifting”.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the cricketers will return under an increased arrivals cap in NSW. Picture: David Gray/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Meanwhile, Victoria’s proposal for a purpose-built, 500-bed quarantine facility at Mickleham, north of Melbourne, seems to be viewed favourably by the federal government, with Mr Morrison again calling it a “comprehensive” proposal.

The Victorian government wants the federal government to pay for it and build it, but no cash was allocated for the plan in Tuesday’s budget.

Western Australia has also called for Commonwealth-constructed and paid for dedicated quarantine facilities.

The state’s premier, Mark McGowan, took a swipe on Sunday, saying the $1.2bn allocated in the budget for the abandoned, controversial Roe 8 and Roe 9 highway extension projects in Perth’s southern suburbs – proposed by the previous Liberal government – should be used for a new quarantine facility.

“It would certainly pay for that and be a much better use of the money,” Mr McGowan said.

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