Prime Minister Scott Morrison has today laid down the gauntlet to Australian states and territory premiers who’s borders remain closed to the rest of Australia, by saying: “If you can’t come to your state from Sydney, you can’t come from Singapore.”
PM Morrison was speaking after the National Cabinet met again today in Canberra to discuss a range of topics including plans for the reopening of state and territory borders of Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania, The Northern Territory and South Australia.
Take from that what you will, but the underlying message appeared to be that the Federal Government will not consider reopening Australia’s international borders to any reciprocal travel bubbles with countries such as Singapore, New Zealand or the Pacific nations until state borders are firstly reopened.
With domestic tourism operators, airlines, hospitality and travel agents already suffering financial ruin from a lack of revenue as has been widely publicised, the point was seemingly intended to be a stark message to get a move on.
Recent economic research by Lucid Economics and commissioned by the Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC) showed that continued hard state and territory border closures are now costing the nation 702 jobs a day with a per 24-hour hit to the country’s GDP of AU$84 million.
The Lucid Economics research reveals the Gross Economic Value of existing closed State and Territory borders of four states (Qld, WA, SA, Tas) and the Northern Territory to interstate travellers, including domestic tourists, was $84 million per day.
This is the equivalent to 702 jobs Australia-wide – or over 4900 each week – that would have been supported by normalised interstate travel and people movements.
And that’s before the desperate plight of the current JobKeeper being extended beyond September.
The Queensland government has said they will review opening the state borders and are aiming for a July 10 reopening.
South Australia confirmed after PM Morrison’s announcement today that it will reopen its borders on July 20. However, legal advice is still being sought on whether travellers from some regions will still have to self isolate.
Speaking about a hold up to the proposed Trans-Tasman bubble a couple of days ago, New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said the “roadblock of federalism” is undoing plans to create the highly anticipated reciprocal agreement earmarked for September.
New Zealand has reached a massively significant historical milestone on Monday, declaring itself COVID-19 free, with the virus eliminated and the country moving to level 1 restrictions.
Speaking on ABC News on Wednesday, Australian Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham also backed Mr Peters claim that Australia’s state and territory border restrictions are holding up a return to travel between the two countries.
Citing jobs and business closure as a key concern, Senator Birmingham said that the longer states kept their borders closed, the more “pain” their economies, businesses and jobs faced.
Mr Birmingham agreed with Mr Peters saying that once Australia’s “systems are ready” the Trans-Tasman bubble will be possible and travel to New Zealand will open up, regardless of which states’ borders are open or closed.
“Let’s not restrain the movement between our two countries based on the slowest state in Australia.
Simon Birmingham, Federal Tourism Minister
Rumoured talk of international ‘bubbles’ has been widespread in recent weeks with COVID-free South Pacific nations such as Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and the Solomon’s all pitching in too for a September travel bubble start with Australia.
Singapore has also recently flagged the idea of ‘green lanes’ between the two countries to re-establish business travel towards the end of the year.
At this stage, it seems the political impasse between some of Australia’s states’ and the federal government is what is holding back any kind of travel commencing anytime soon.
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