Turnell still loves people of Myanmar

Economist Sean Turnell has arrived back in Australia after spending almost two years in a Myanmar jail, praising the efforts of those who helped free him.

Professor Turnell's flight touched down on Friday morning at Melbourne Airport, where he was reunited with his wife Ha Vu.

"I appreciate the efforts of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and the Australian government and thank the whole community of Australia for their support," Prof Turnell told AAP.

"I still love the people of Myanmar."

He left Bangkok late on Thursday evening before getting an overnight flight following his surprise release.

Prof Turnell was arrested in early 2021 after Myanmar's military junta seized power.

He was sentenced to three years' jail in September for "violating the country's official state secrets act".

Ha Vu said on Friday she was thankful to everyone who advocated for his release, including Foreign Minister Penny Wong and others in the Australian government.

"I am overwhelmed with joy at the news that my beloved husband, Sean, is coming home," she said in a statement.

"After nearly 22 months apart, our priority right now is to spend time together as a family."

Prof Turnell's friend, economist Tim Harcourt, said he should receive an Australia Day honour and shouldn't have been imprisoned for doing his professional duty.

"Sean's heart was with the people of Myanmar to help lift them out of poverty and help Myanmar reach its economic potential," he said.

Senator Wong said she spoke to Prof Turnell after he landed in Bangkok and described him as being in very good spirits.

"His return will be an enormous relief to his wife Ha Vu and to all of his friends and supporters here in Australia and overseas," she told reporters in Adelaide.

"Ha Vu has been a tower of strength through this ordeal and I wish both she and Sean well for this reunion and time together."

Prof Turnell was freed earlier on Thursday under an amnesty covering close to 6000 prisoners to celebrate Myanmar's National Victory Day.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, in Bangkok for the APEC summit, spoke to the 58-year-old over the phone.

Prof Turnell, who lives in Mr Albanese's Sydney electorate, was even making jokes and apologised for not voting in the election.

Mr Albanese reassured him he would not be fined.

Prof Turnell told Mr Albanese "people have been wonderful" and wanted to thank Australians for their support.

"He's a remarkable man and he was (in Myanmar) doing his job as an economic policy adviser - nothing more, nothing less," Mr Albanese told reporters.

Prof Turnell told Mr Albanese the Australian embassy in Myanmar dropped off food hampers in tote bags emblazoned with the Australian crest while he was in jail.

"He would put the tote bags where the bars were on the cell ... so both he and the guards who were detaining him could see the Australian crest and he could keep that optimism," Mr Albanese said.

"The Australian crest, of course, with the kangaroo and emu that don't go backwards."

Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham said the government should consider imposing sanctions on Myanmar's military dictatorship.

"Professor Turnell's release and return home finally brings to an end what, for many, has been a long and painful saga," he said.