‘What would you be doing?’ Julia Gillard is grilled by a stranded Australian in London – as the former PM reveals why she chose not to fly back home
- Gillard was a guest speaker at the Royal Over-Seas League in London
- A Melbourne resident, 31, expressed her frustration at being stranded in the UK
- Due to current number restrictions, she can’t get a flight home until September 4
- Gillard was asked if still in parliament how she would address freedom of travel
- Focus was on compassionate reasons – Gillard’s response was meek at best
Julia Gillard has been grilled by a frustrated Australian citizen unable to fly home from the UK due to the nation’s international arrivals cap.
Gillard, who served as Prime Minister from 2007-2010, was speaking at an event at London‘s Royal Over-Seas League when she was asked the tricky question.
A woman only known as Eleanor, 31, took aim at the Australian Government’s decision to halve flight caps and asked her whether she would do things differently.
Despite losing a loved one recently, the earliest available flight for the Melbourne resident from the UK was September 4.
‘If you were still in government or in opposition, what would you be doing about freedom of travel for compassionate reasons?’ Eleanor asked, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Former prime minister Julia Gillard (pictured) was grilled by an Australian resident unable to fly home due to current limitations as a result of the pandemic – she was asked her hypothetical thoughts if still involved in parliament
Gillard’s response left the audience feeling flat after she declared personally she also aimed to fly home before Christmas.
The 59-year-old said she decided to abandon her plan to get home by August and delayed her flight so that she ‘wouldn’t displace someone who needed that place more than me’.
She acknowledged ‘the hard circumstances’ many Australians were facing as they tried to return home, before meekly adding she was ‘sorry’ about the woman’s personal situation.
Former politician Alexander Downer won back the room when he declared every Australian had a ‘basic human right’ to be able to return to their own country.
‘The Australian Government should make sure that you’re able to do so [and] not lock you out because it suits a broader agenda, which is an absurd agenda – to eliminate Covid from Australia altogether, that’s not a sustainable policy,’ he said.
He added he was ‘shocked’ that federal and state governments were not already allowing home quarantine as an option for citizens who are fully vaccinated.
As it stands, Australia is only willing to accept close to 3000 returnees per week from overseas destinations.
More than 35,000 residents abroad have flagged their desire to return home.
The woman wished to return home to Melbourne after the death of a loved one but can’t get a flight until September 4 – Ms Gillard provided a bland response to an audience for the Britain-Australia Society at the Royal Over-Seas League in London
Julia Gillard confronted by a stranded Australian in London