• Aisling Salisbury

Australia It Is Time: Let's Get Back Our Country

Election day is finally here. As many of you would've seen, I have had my fifteen minutes of fame in this morning's 'Sydney Morning Herald'. You can read the article here (Click Here). I even made it to the lead pic and the headline. You can also read the full transcript of my interview at the bottom of this piece.

I was interviewed for the 'Sydney Morning Herald' about Australia's policies.

I was contacted by Natassia Chrysanthos for an interview in regards to the Australian Government and the Electoral Commission restricting ex-pats' ability to vote in the upcoming election. I gladly did the interview because Australia's policies in regard to those outside of the country is nothing short of a National Disgrace. As I told Natassia, why should they change now? It's almost sadly expected.


The response alone from the Electoral Commision in Natassia's piece supports that assumption too. The fact is, Australians just didn't care about their own citizens outside of the country. Considering how angry we are, it's understandable if they wanted us to be silent and simply forget the last two years ever happened, well, we will never forget!


It took three full weeks from registering to receiving my Ballot papers for the upcoming Federal Election. This is despite registering immediately on the announcement of the election.

It took three weeks to receive my postal vote.

To their credit, the Electoral Commission was fast to send out the Ballot papers once all the Candidates and ballot papers were finalised, however, relying on the Australian postage service is appalling, especially when we are talking about mailing between two major cities of Australia and the US. Sadly though this isn't exactly unexpected.

Towards the end of 2021, even the US Mail Service had temporarily suspended services to Australia due to a "lack of transportation". Then again, the country did shut itself off to the rest of the world and finally, the world said to them "ok you want to be a hermit, we'll treat you as such".

Sums up Australia's COVID bedwetting and reopening perfectly.

Despite Australia's apparent "reopening", services are still incredibly poor. Recently my parents sent me some important papers via Express Postage, it took just shy of four weeks to be received, and that's express. Personally, I think it highlights how backwards Australia is now becoming.

In 2021, Australia was in great company when it came to US Post.

When you combine it with the fact that I was locked out of my home for two years and spent 28 days of 2021 in solitary confinement to see my loved ones (and that is considered fortunate?) and even today am still locked out because of a requirement to declare my status to the Federal Government which I am not prepared to do, as it could jeopardise my ability to return to work in the US. This is not the country I thought was the greatest in the world. With that, there was no way I wouldn't be voting in this Federal Election, and the State Election in November, because simply, I want my country back.


I sincerely hope that Australia turns a corner for the better today. This will only happen if the Parties that supported individual freedoms and were against lockdowns and mandates hold the balance of power. I regrettably don't have much hope as it does seem that Australians have very short memories and just want to pretend the last two years didn't happen. I hope I am wrong, but this is why I wanted to get my vote in at all costs, every vote counts, especially if it means at least a wake-up call.


Knowing that postage was poor I opted for the postal ballot as early as possible for convenience and to save money on having to go to either New York or San Francisco and visit the Consulates. Luckily my ballot arrived in time, but the fact is, the Australian Government has treated Aussies overseas with contempt from March 2020, as too the populous.


I firmly believe the populous is not just in denial about the last two years but also was jealous because for two years people overseas, including Aussies trapped, continued their lives fairly normal for all of 2021 whilst Australia was locked down and they all cowered in their homes, at the risk of a criminal record. Even if Aussies had a "normal life" they even couldn't cross a State Border or do anything without the right papers.


But Aussies overseas were free and were free to do what they saw fit. I mean I myself was going to Disneyland, Vegas and travelling all over the US, including Central America whilst Australians continued to show their papers and check-in everywhere they went or be faced with punishment. They justified it based on Case Numbers, now Australia has one of the highest infection rates in the world. As opposed to questioning the narrative of the last two years and even asking "did we get it wrong?" it's just easier to continue the scapegoating of the outside world and the Aussies they abandoned.

Wait, didn't Australia do all this to prevent this from happening? (source ABC)

Australia, today I pray that you return to the straight and narrow. With that, I'd like to end with the Shepard's prayer, Astronaut Alan Shepard's prayer that is. With just a slight adjustment to let it apply to Australia today.

"Dear Lord, please don't let us f*ck up!"

Please Australia, it's crunch time! Make the right call and get back on track. Let's get the country and our freedoms back.

Ash


Date Interviewed:

10 May 2021

How long have you lived overseas, where do you live and what brought you there?

I moved to the US for a job opportunity in 2019. I currently live in Seattle and work in the Aviation sector. My employer would sponsor my Visa which was for a two-year period and in return, I was financially bonded to the company for that two year period. When the COVID pandemic initially hit and my industry ground to a halt in the US I returned to Australia until I was recalled less than four months later.


I returned to the US in July 2020 and since that moment business has been booming and continuing to grow, whilst many of my colleagues in the same line of work in Australia are now no longer in the profession or unemployed. Hence my reluctance to return home permanently. I have employment here, why give that up?

What has happened in your life in the past couple of years that has led you to feel abandoned by the government - any particular events, inability to get flights, lost work, no support when it was sought, etc? And has that influenced how you intend to vote this year?

When I left Australia in July 2020, I never thought it would ever be a case that as an Aussie citizen you would be physically restricted from returning to your own country of citizenship and that it would be December 2021 at the earliest before restrictions would start lifting. Now yes, when I left, the border was closed. Many nations did this, but countries didn't restrict their own citizens and permanent residents from leaving or returning freely and for the overly prolonged period Australia did so. I was fortunate to return to Australia twice in 2021, this meant that I spent a total of 28 days in Hotel Quarantine. I'm an institutionalised girl now, *laugh*. I was incredibly fortunate that space was available on the night for a flight home. Working in the aviation sector certainly assisted me with that because of the heavily discounted standby airfares I have access to. I returned in June 2021 which was purely opportunistic and I figured I'd give it a go. The second time I returned was in August 2021. June 2021 I was lucky to get on the flight I intended to get on and spent two and a half weeks in Australia with two of them being in Quarantine, just to see my family for four days, for the first time in nearly a year, and it was technically illegal to see them at home because of current lockdown measures. In August 2021 it was three nights of attempting to get on a flight before I found space on the third attempt. Airline staff would frequently tell me, including the cabin crew on the flight, that we have to leave people behind so many times on these flights to Australia. A compassionate country doesn't leave their own citizens at an airport.

As an airline operating 10-30 people on a 787 means the airline was running the flights at a loss. It meant that airfares were astronomical for ex-pats to even contemplate getting home and even then, there was no guarantee of getting on board the flight. This is what many Australians don't understand, just because you had a ticket, it didn't mean you had a flight. As I say working in the Aviation sector meant I had access to heavily discounted airfares and got very lucky, but many people weren't lucky to have an employer like mine that granted me enough time off work, when I only get two weeks of leave a year. If it wasn't for the heavily discounted standby airfares and an accommodating employer then I would never have had this chance and would never have gotten home at all. So there is that, the lack of understanding of the Australian populous as to the difficulties in getting back because of passenger caps and the abandonment of even the National Airline to not do flights at all. A second issue came with my Visa Renewal in February 2021. The visa I was on required me to leave the US to renew and then return. When I left Australia in 2019 I left for basically a working holiday, because of the Australian border closure and tanking of my industry I opted to stay in the country where I had employment. But to renew the Visa and not be able to return to Australia? This made things incredibly difficult, fortunately, after much research, the US Embassy in Costa Rica was prepared to renew my Visa and I was able to get it done with absolutely no travel restrictions whatsoever. The fact that I could travel anywhere but Australia at the time is incredibly perplexing. In regards to voting, I am a moderate and usually vote for the Libs. I will never be voting for them ever again in my lifetime, nor the Labor party. Australian Governments failed at both the State and Federal Levels on both sides of the aisle. The major parties used Australians overseas, the border closure and quarantine programmes, not as a political football but as a way of scapegoating their own failures, failures that should be evidenced now by the Health system crashing when they did all this to protect it? I will be voting/preferencing the political parties that were against lockdowns, mandates and coercion. As I am unvaccinated, by choice, as I have recovered from COVID and I get frequent antibodies testing and they're still there, I don't see the need to immediately rush out and get the vaccine. However, despite Australia (well NSW/VIC) allowing me to return to Australia now "unimpeded". It's the Federal Government's required declaration as to my status that could put into jeopardy my ability to return to the US as I am not a US Citizen or 'Green Card' holder.


It seems somewhat pointless for the Federal Government to know anyone's Vaccination status to enter the country when many of the states now no longer care about Vaccine status. Regardless, no nation requires a Vaccine declaration of their own citizens in order to enter their own country. The paperwork and requirements now to enter Australia have become more of a bureaucratic nightmare. If the election goes the ways the polls suggest then I fear being locked out again unless I have that vaccine paperwork now, that's not appropriate by any measure.


For the record, all my vaccines are up to date, I just haven't taken this one because as I say, I have COVID antibodies to begin with. Second many in my sector have had issues that have restricted their abilities to hold their medicals meaning a loss of employment from vaccine-related injuries, it's simply a risk analysis I'm not yet prepared to take.

Can I clarify - you applied for a postal ballot paper the first day you could (April 25) and still haven't received it? I applied for a postal ballot when the AEC opened it, this was done on April 14th. On April 25th the AEC system said that the Ballot Papers had been dispatched and were now in the hands of Australia Post. Two weeks later and I haven't heard anything from Australia Post no tracking numbers or anything. Are you concerned that your vote won't make it to be counted in time? Or are you more frustrated by the general state of that postal system? Postal services between the US and Australia have been appalling all throughout the pandemic, perhaps restricting flights to Australia had something to do with it? But post-pandemic, services for postage between Australia and the US are incredibly slow still. Recently my parents sent me some paperwork express postage from Australia, it took a month to get here and that was via Express. Assuming my postal ballot arrives within the next week, my plan was to mail it to the US Consulate in San Francisco which is accepting postal ballots. Should I not receive my postal ballot in the next week then I will go to the Consulate to cast my vote, this though will cost me time and money that I really don't have, but there is no way I'm not getting my vote in for this election.

How has your opinion on the government and Australia changed over the last two years? "The Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia being the representative of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, requests all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer, an Australian Citizen, to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford him or her every assistance and protection of which he or she may stand in need" Australia didn't uphold the declaration in it's own Passport, say no more. Have you had any conversations with other Australians abroad that would lead you to think this is a widespread sentiment?

This is a widespread sentiment for the last two years. There have been suicides around the world of Australians who couldn't get home. Probably left destitute when a Visa lapsed and they couldn't work or psychologically drained and couldn't take any more. The sad thing is, Australians didn't care then, they don't care now. Including the Aussies that have gotten home and are now in Australia. I feel Australians have very short memories of what has happened. They [Stranded Aussies] also seem poised to reward a party Federally that on a State level dictated the very same inbound passenger caps that restricted us from returning home freely for over two years. I was fortunate to have the opportunity, not just once but twice to return to Australia in 2021. I count myself incredibly lucky, but I will never forget those that couldn't do so and were in far worse predicaments than I was.

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