THE government is in talks with Peru about ways to get Australian citizens out of the country.
Staff from the embassy are discussing necessary permissions with the Peruvian government, other embassies and travel companies to arrange a flight, a spokesperson said.
"This includes discussions by our Embassy in Lima with the travel company, Chimu Adventures, regarding the company's plans for a chartered flight," they said.
"We understand this is a difficult and stressful situation and we strongly recommend that Australians follow the directions and advice of local authorities, and continue to monitor www.smartraveller.gov.au and the Australian Embassy's social media in Peru."
It comes as shadow foreign affairs minister Penny Wong raised concerns about Australians stranded outside the county.
"In Peru, which is in lock down, Australians are being forced to fundraise to cover the costs of charter flights reported to be as high as $15,000 per person," she said.
"We commend the work of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's consular team, for the work they are doing to assist Australians overseas.
"But we continue to see cases of Australians not being able to access timely and comprehensive advice and assistance."
BENDIGO cricketers are calling on the federal government to help them get out of Peru after flights were grounded and the Australian embassy closed.
But it could take time for help to reach them because of the scale of the coronavirus crisis and the number of Australians stranded internationally, a parliamentarian has warned.
Four Bendigo cricketing tourists are locked down in Peru and reporting difficulties communicating with Australian authorities.
Among them is Stephen Stingel, who said the group is trying to ask the government to offer loans to help pay for these charter flights, just as the USA has done.
"All we're really wanting to know at this stage is whether the government would offer loans to those who need assistance paying for return flights via any charter service."
That may not be as easy to confirm as it sounds, member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters has warned.
"With airlines around the world grounding their flights, with borders being closed and with consulates on skeleton staff it's just taking a lot more time to work out how to get these people out safely," she said.
Ms Chester's office was contacted by concerned family members in Australia roughly a week ago, she said.
Ms Chesters planned to raise the prospect of chartered flights out of the country with both the foreign affairs minister and her shadow minister counterpart as well as the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
"At that stage we know the Australian consulate in Peru was involved before they were also forced to close because of the virus," Ms Chesters said.
"Unfortunately it is going to take time because we have lost all our usual travel routes and usual channels of communications."
Loans covering the estimated $5100 flights out might not be the easiest way to deal with the situation, she said.
"That may take time. What I will be asking for today is that the government work with these individuals to help finance the trip, to look at what's worked previously," Ms Chesters said.
"If the money was to be found, the question would still be would the flight go ahead. Flights are being cancelled because they can't get clearance to land in certain parts of the United States, for example."
Questions about whether the cricketers could remain safe as the pandemic spreads came down to the Australian and Peru governments talking to each other, Ms Chesters said.
"When you are out of the country it's hard for Australia to ensure your welfare. What we are trying to do is work with both governments to help get these people home," she said.
Mr Stingel was aware of about 320 Australians currently stuck in Peru.
All he could do for the moment was "kick back and relax in isolation".
Ms Chesters said her heart went out to him and others stranded overseas.
"When you are isolated and waiting to get home a minute can seem like an hour and an hour can seem like a day," she said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and patron senator for Bendigo Sarah Henderson are being contacted for comment.
If you are stranded overseas or need help:
Ms Chesters has asked anyone contacting her office to have Checked Smart Traveller for relevant advice and already contacted DFAT's consular emergency assistance.
If the matter needs to be escalated her office needs impacted Australian's names, passport numbers, current location and contact information, and steps already taken to get advice and assistance.
DFAT consular emergency line:
- 1300 555 135 (in Australia)
- +61 2 6261 3305 (from overseas except China)
- +61 2 6261 9925 (from China)
- SMS + 61 421 269 080
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