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Less than 10 per cent of travellers in NSW coronavirus hotel quarantine have paid their bill

Less than 10 per cent of guests in quarantine hotels in New South Wales have paid for the service since the State Government began charging for the program four months ago.

Documents obtained under freedom of information laws have also revealed 644 invoices are so overdue that debt recovery orders have been issued to recoup more than $2 million in outstanding fees.

Since July 18, overseas arrivals have been billed $3,000 each for the mandatory two-week stay in heavily guarded hotels.

Passengers flying to Sydney from Victoria since September 11 are also supposed to pay for their quarantine.

Since the NSW Government began charging, the documents show 43,684 returned travellers have been put up in hotels.

But just 4,156 have paid their invoices.

Catch up on the main COVID-19 news from November 19 with our coronavirus blog.

More than half of the arrivals had their fees waived, including almost 12,000 Defence Force personnel and passengers in transit.

The exemptions have cost the Government more than $30 million in lost revenue.

People who booked their flights before specified cut-off dates and those experiencing financial hardship can also apply for a waiver.

About 10 per cent of guests who owe money are on payment plans.

In a statement, a government spokesperson said hotel quarantine was essential in protecting the state against COVID-19.

“Quarantine fees are only a contribution to the overall cost incurred by the state and the NSW Government is not making a profit from the quarantine program,” they said.

“The fees for quarantine are comparable to other jurisdictions.”

Families and groups sharing hotel rooms are given a discount, with each extra adult charged $1,000 and children over the age of three costing $500 (meaning a family of two adults and two children must pay $5,000).

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has argued her state is doing more than any other jurisdiction to repatriate Australians, and has challenged Queensland and Western Australia in particular to step up.

A Senate estimates committee was recently told 32,000 stranded Australians have registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to return home.

Price of quarantine hurting those without work

The cost of hotel quarantine and expensive international airfares make it hard for many to get back to Australia.

Natalie, who does not want to use her surname, was sailing from Mexico to Fiji with her partner when she heard Australia had shut its border.

The 31-year-old has returned to Sydney to find work after using all her travel budget.

“My money has run out and I’ve had to access early release of super,” Natalie said.

“I don’t have a job so I’ve got to make that money last.”

A man and woman on a paddle board
Natalie and her partner were sailing when they heard about Australia’s border closure.(Supplied)

The Federal Government scheme allows Australians affected by the pandemic to withdraw $10,000 from their superannuation account.

Natalie says she will use almost a third of that amount to pay for her quarantine when she is released from the hotel

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