Re­open­ing of Aust Bor­ders for Tourist Travel Quite Some Dis­tance Off, Says Birm­ing­ham

Fiji Sun - - AUST / NZ / PACIFIC NEWS -

Aus­tralia’s Tourism Min­is­ter is warn­ing the na­tion’s bor­der is likely to stay closed un­til next year.

Si­mon Birm­ing­ham said the de­ci­sion to shut the bor­der was one of the main rea­sons for Aus­tralia’s suc­cess in sup­press­ing COVID-19 and it would not be lifted for gen­eral travel any time soon.

“I do sadly think that in terms of open tourist-re­lated travel in or out of Aus­tralia, that re­mains quite some dis­tance off,” Mr Birm­ing­ham told the Na­tional Press Club.

“Just be­cause of the prac­ti­cal­i­ties of the vol­umes that are in­volved and the need for us to first and fore­most keep putting health first.”

Asked whether that meant the bor­der would not open un­til next year, he said, “I think that is more likely the case”.

What about talk about a Trans-Tas­man bub­ble?

The Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment is work­ing on a cou­ple of ex­cep­tions to the coun­try’s bor­der clo­sure, in­clud­ing al­low­ing travel be­tween Aus­tralia and New Zealand.

Talks be­tween the two na­tions are un­der­way and an ex­pert panel has sub­mit­ted a re­port to both gov­ern­ments on how it might work. There is still no time­frame on when it might hap­pen.

Some in­ter­na­tional stu­dents will be let back into Aus­tralia to study from next month as part of “preap­proved” pi­lot pro­grammes and Mr Birm­ing­ham has sug­gested some busi­ness travel may also be opened up.

“I think those who might not only be in­ter­na­tional stu­dents, but be here for longer-term work pur­poses or longer-term busi­ness and in­vest­ment pur­poses, log­i­cally you can ex­tend those sort of same safe­guards to them and their state,” he said.

“I hope that we can look even­tu­ally at some of those coun­tries who have sim­i­lar suc­cesses in sup­press­ing the spread of COVID to Aus­tralia and New Zealand, and in work­ing through that with those coun­tries, find safe path­ways to deal with es­sen­tial busi­ness travel that helps to con­trib­ute to jobs across our economies.”

‘Pa­tri­otic duty’

Aus­tralians spent more than AU$65 bil­lion on over­seas hol­i­days last year and the gov­ern­ment wants some of that money spent do­mes­ti­cally in­stead.

Mr Birm­ing­ham said peo­ple who can af­ford it should feel “an al­most pa­tri­otic duty” to sup­port lo­cal busi­nesses by tak­ing a hol­i­day in Aus­tralia.

But cur­rent travel op­tions vary state by state. There are no bor­der re­stric­tions in ei­ther New South Wales, Vic­to­ria or the ACT.

South Aus­tralia has opened its bor­ders to Western Aus­tralia, the North­ern Ter­ri­tory and Tas­ma­nia, with oth­ers to be wel­comed from July 20.

Manda­tory ho­tel quar­an­tine has been dropped in the NT while Tas­ma­nia’s bor­der clo­sure will be re­vis­ited early next month. Queens­land has been work­ing to­wards a July re­open­ing al­though Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk has warned re­stric­tions won’t be lifted if there’s ac­tive trans­mis­sion in­ter­state.

In Western Aus­tralia, Premier Mark McGowan is stand­ing firm on his de­ci­sion to keep the bor­der closed un­til it’s “healthy and safe” to open again.

The Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment has been ramp­ing up pres­sure on the states to re-open and will in­ter­vene in three court chal­lenges against the clo­sures in Western Aus­tralia and Queens­land, with At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Chris­tian Porter say­ing the Com­mon­wealth will ar­gue the re­stric­tions are un­con­sti­tu­tional.

Planes on the tar­mac at Mel­bourne’s Tul­la­ma­rine Air­port on April 12, 2020.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Fiji

© PressReader. All rights reserved.