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  • Victoria Acting Premier seeks tick for overseas students plan

    Author: AAP

Victorian Acting Premier James Merlino has written to the federal government seeking approval for a plan to allow international students to return to the state.

Victoria's Acting Premer James Merlino has lobbed a revised proposal at the feet of the federal government to welcome back international students.

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Under the separate hotel quarantine scheme, an extra 120 spots would be reserved for international students, actors and other foreign economic migrants to fly into Melbourne each week.

They would not be included in Victoria's weekly cap of 1000 returned travellers and would be housed in a dedicated quarantine hotel, similar to the Australian Open program.

Users of the system including universities, stage and screen productions and major events groups would foot the bill, which would be "over and above" the $3000 hotel quarantine fee for returning Australian adults.

In a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison seen by AAP on Tuesday, Mr Merlino seeks approval for the scheme to begin from May 24.

The state government has been in discussions with universities for months as the sector lobbied to fly about 1000 foreign students into Melbourne every two to three weeks on chartered flights.

Despite the latest plan falling well short of that figure, Mr Merlino said Victorian universities supported the proposal.

"We've been clear to them that we want to see a proportion of flights back into Victoria for economic cohorts," he told reporters on Tuesday.

"The ball's now in the federal government's court. We have met all the criteria that we've set, and I'm very hopeful for a positive answer."

The economic cohort would catch commercial flights where possible and be subject to the same stringent testing regime followed by other hotel quarantine guests.

The Victorian government in March announced its rebooted hotel quarantine program would put aside 120 additional places for economic cohorts once it scaled up to 1120 returned travellers a week.

That figure was cut back to 1000 after the federal government rejected the initial proposal.

The revived push comes as Victoria recorded no new local cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday from almost 17,000 test results, marking 60 days without any community transmission in the state.

All passengers who shared a Perth to Melbourne flight with a COVID-19 infected man last Wednesday have now tested negative.

They are among thousands of people currently isolating in Victoria after returning from the Perth or Peel regions.

With the West Australian capital and Peel freed from a three-day lockdown at midnight on Monday, Victoria is set to downgrade the area from "red" to "orange" zones under its border permit system.


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