Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has written to premiers and chief ministers to ask them to raise their caps on hotel quarantine numbers to allow an extra 2000 Australians week to get home from overseas.
But it's not clear if the requests will result in significantly more Australians getting home, as the number who want to do so continues to rise.
Only one premier has agreed to increase the international intake in their state, but not by the number wanted by the federal government.
More than 26,000 Australians are stuck overseas trying to get home but are struggling due to the caps on the numbers on people in hotel quarantine, currently set at 4000 a week.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr has said the ACT could be open to taking international arrivals, but not until the federal review into hotel quarantine hands down its report, expected in October, and only if a number of conditions were met.
Mr Barr told reporters the ACT would only take one flight every 14 to 18 days of about 150 people, on the condition that a single hotel was used, and the Australian Federal Police and Australian Defence Force could be used to assist in enforcing the quarantine arrangements.
He expected it would likely be a chartered flight, not a commercial flight.
There would also need to be time between each group of returned travellers for the hotel to be deep cleaned before another group could arrive.
"This is a Commonwealth issue, international borders and quarantine are Commonwealth responsibilities so what I won't allow is the idea that all of this is buck-passed down to the states and territories. That's not fair," Mr Barr said.
"The Commonwealth, if they want the ACT to do more, can certainly assist us by making Australian Federal Police, as distinct from ACT police, available so that we can continue our ACT Policing focus on all our domestic quarantine requirements."
Mr McCormack said he wanted NSW, Queensland and Western Australia to take 500 extra people each a week, and South Australia to take 360 a week.
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall has committed to increasing the hotel quarantine in that state, but its cap includes travellers from interstate and capacity to deal with local outbreaks.
South Australia currently has 500 hotel quarantine places each week, of which 240 are international arrivals, 130 are from high-risk areas within Australia, and 130 are for community outbreaks.
The state is seeking to increase its total capacity to 800, of which 600 would be overseas arrivals and the remaining 200 would be for domestic arrivals and capacity for community outbreaks.
Mr McCormack said he appreciated the ACT was in the middle of an election campaign, but said there was plenty of empty hotel rooms in capital cities in Australia.
He hoped the ACT, Northern Territory and Tasmania could take the remaining people, but Mr Barr said all smaller jurisdictions would need federal help to take returned international travellers.
There are currently 291 people quarantined in Canberra, 97 of whom are in hotel quarantine and 194 at home.
West Australian Premier Mark McGowan was frustrated with the way the federal government announced its request for states to take more flights.
"We would consider it, but we want to have a proper conversation and proper consideration of it," he said on Wednesday.
"I don't really like the fact that this has been sprung via a press conference without a discussion with the people required to actually implement it, and I would have thought that is very directly outside the spirit of the national cabinet."
The WA government will consider using popular tourism spot Rottnest Island to house returned travellers, having done so earlier in the year.
Mr McGowan remains adamant the Commonwealth should consider having travellers quarantine at defence bases, but appeared to backtrack from an earlier suggestion that the Christmas Island detention centre could be used.
"What I suggested yesterday was some of the Commonwealth facilities that are available, but in particular defence bases," he said.
Christmas Island is currently housing convicted criminals and people whose visas were revoked but couldn't be deported because of a lack of flights.
The federal government has said it would not be appropriate to use it as a quarantine facility.
Asked about the possibility of the federal government using facilities like Howard Springs in the Northern Territory, Mr McCormack said nothing was off the table.
"But we feel the best way the states can manage the quarantine is through the hotel situation with of course proper guards over that."
Mr McCormack said he wanted the caps to increase to 10,000 a week as part of a bid to get as many Australians home before Christmas as possible, but he acknowledged not all Australians would get home by the end of the year.
- with AAP