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As Aussies scramble to get home, Brandis under fire for lazy month-long break


Australia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom George Brandis has been criticised after spending almost a month off in Queensland over the Christmas break while thousands of citizens remain stranded overseas.

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The former minister’s took the holiday after completing two weeks of quarantine and holding a series of meetings.

Other ambassadors and high commissioners stationed across the globe are also believed to have returned.

His holiday has been criticised by some of the almost 40,000 Australians still stuck overseas who are struggling to get home because of quarantine caps and limited seats on flights.

Australian doctor Phoebe Mackenzie, who travelled to the UK for specialist training, had her flight home cancelled.

“I don’t begrudge the man a holiday, everyone is entitled to have some annual leave, but the way this has been handled is really just horribly insensitive,” she told the Seven Network.

“When, miraculously, quarantine facilities are being found to house politicians and tennis players, the whole thing just stinks of hypocrisy.”

Mackenzie said thousands of stranded Australians were desperate to return.

“These aren’t holiday-makers who are on an extended Contiki tour, these are people who want to come back and contribute to their communities,” she said.

Labor foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said Mackenzie was right.

“With Scott Morrison there’s one set of rules for a privileged few, while everybody else gets left behind,” she said.

“We need a plan for safe federal quarantine to get Australians like Phoebe home.”

But Prime Minister Scott Morrison leapt to Brandis’ defence.
“He came back for meetings here in Australia, like many other heads of mission. He did not take the place of any other Australian,” he said.

“He spent two weeks here quarantining before he engaged in those meetings. He’s an Australian and he spent some time with his family in his home state while he was here.”

Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon questioned why Brandis was able to return while many others could not.

“I’m not so critical of George, I’m critical of the system which keeps giving us these inconsistencies,” he said.

“People can’t see their loved ones that may be dying but George is fairly able to frolic back into the country. Common sense has to prevail here.”

Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce said the former attorney-general’s holiday should not have been allowed while Australian citizens were unable to get home.

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