In a campaign to reclaim bills from Australians that haven’t paid their mandatory hotel quarantine fees, the New South Wales government has begun to pursue more direct collection methods. More than 7000 Australians in NSW alone currently owe approximately $16.4 million.
As of Friday, February 19, internal NSW debt collectors issued a round of over 5000 debt recuperation invoices to more than 7000 travellers. If the bills remain unpaid, the NSW Revenue agency has the power to recuperate from debtors’ wages, bank accounts, or property. Notices were sent to individuals’ whose bills dated from at least two months ago.
Damien Tudehorpe, NSW Finance Minister kept it brief, saying “When it comes to paying your invoice for hotel quarantine, the message is a simple one – payment of your fee is not optional.”
“Don’t ignore it. If you are facing hardship or difficulty paying, contact us about making payment, entering into a payment plan, an extension to pay or other hardship measures.”
After a period of NSW government-funded quarantine policy, lasting from March to July of last year, returning international travelers were required to pay from July 18 2020 onwards. The rate was, and still is, $3000 for one adult, $1000 for accompanying adults, and $500 for any children over three years old.
Across Australia, over 13,000 citizens owed a collective $43.4 million, from figures taken on February 3. Not all of these debts have reached the two month deadline before collection measures may be taken.
While some claim that international travelers should accept the bill as part of their decision to return to Australia, others have questioned the rates, especially in light of the quality of life the hotels offered.
About one third of individuals returning to Australia have had their fees waived due to a cut-off date that depends on the time that the booking was made. International travelers who had their return ticket booked before July 12 did not need to pay the fee.
Other states in Australia such as Victoria have yet to take any similar steps to collect debts issued there.