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Forrest granted overseas travel exemption

Billionaire mining magnate Andrew Forrest has been granted an overseas travel exemption for a business trip to Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

The Fortescue Metals Group chairman and founder is leading a delegation that is expected to spend several days in PNG before travelling to Jakarta.

FMG confirmed the visit but did not elaborate on details of the trip or answer whether the group would be required to enter hotel quarantine upon returning to Australia.

“The Australian Border Force have authorised a business travel exemption for a group led by Fortescue Metals Group’s chairman Dr Andrew Forrest AO which will allow early stage discussions on important philanthropic and investment opportunities, providing potential for contribution to COVID-19 economic recovery,” a spokesperson told AAP.

“All relevant approvals have been obtained and a COVID-19 management plan is in place.”

Australia has enforced strict travel bans which prevent anyone from leaving the country without an exemption.

The criteria include compassionate or humanitarian grounds, urgent personal business or medical treatment or travel that is either in the national interest, essential for critical industries or related to the COVID-19 outbreak response.

Thousands of Australian citizens remain overseas with the federal government enforcing a cap on the number of returning flights.

Others have been denied permission to leave Australia or experienced long delays waiting for decisions.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade last month said more than 357,000 citizens and permanent residents had returned to Australia since mid-March.

PNG’s Post-Courier has reported Mr Forrest’s delegation intends to travel in a COVID “bubble” that isolates them from the broader public.

Mr Forrest was expected to meet with political leaders including PNG Prime Minister James Marape.

FMG was reported earlier this year to have shown an interest in the Bougainville copper mine in Papua New Guinea.

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