Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) is reportedly prepared to start a legal challenge against state and territory border closures if Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia do not reveal “reasonable” plans to rejoin the nation in coming weeks, accusing the states of costing the company $100m a month according to The Australian.
National cabinet will meet today to discuss the path out of the pandemic including reopening the national border which is now anticipated to happen in mid-November.
PM Scott Morrison will then hold a news conference with an announcement and plan for overseas travel restrictions expected.
However, Western Australia, Queensland and Tasmania have still not given any assurance that they will open their borders once the nation passes the 80 per cent 16+ vaccination rate as agreed in the four-step national plan.
Could we really see travel restart from Sydney to London in mid-November before Sydney to The Gold Coast or Perth?
FCTG’s threat reportedly comes weeks after the premiers were put on notice by Attorney-General Michaelia Cash that rising vaccination rates would shift the legal arguments against them after the High Court last year shot down billionaire Clive Palmer’s push to reopen the West Australian border.
CEO Skroo Turner told The Australian that his business and a number of other tourism businesses were ready to mount a second legal challenge if WA Premier Mark McGowan, Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk refused to commit to a reopening strategy.
“Our lawyers do believe the case has actually changed since the Palmer case on whether it is reasonable to keep the borders shut,” he said. “We want to see a reasonable plan from national cabinet this week.
“We expect the state premiers to have a plan and we expect it to be reasonable. If not and the borders stay shut, we don’t have a choice but to challenge.
“We are losing $800m a month’s worth of sales and that makes up about $100m a month in our total revenue.
“We are prepared to mount a challenge ourselves, but we have been talking to quite a few companies if we have to challenge,” he said.
Defence Minister Peter Dutton was on Channel Nine this morning and said he supported the move by FCTG saying “I think it’s a fair enough position that he’s taking.”
“I think the premiers have signed up to the 70 and 80% changes and I think they should honour their word. And I think if people are saying that the premiers should be kept to their deal, I absolutely support that.”
However, Tasmania’s premier Peter Gutwein said he “couldn’t care less” about threats of legal action by Flight Centre.
“My first priority … is Tasmanians’ health,” Mr Gutwein said.
“To be frank I couldn’t care less whether the head of Flight Centre or any other airline or business, wanted to take Tasmania to court,
“The aim of the plan was to have the country open by Christmas. We’re still planning for that.”
What will happen next? Get the popcorn ready and watch this space.
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