Australia’s recovery hangs in the balance for our tourism industry, universities and those businesses facing critical skill shortages without a plan to reopen our borders to all fully vaccinated international arrivals.
With exemption and quarantine-free international travel resuming for fully vaccinated Australians, the Federal Government must move beyond quarantine and outline a timetable for the return of all other fully vaccinated international arrivals.
“While the rest of the world is moving on from closed borders, we’re at risk of getting left behind,” ACCI chief executive Andrew McKellar said.
“The reality is until we’re fully reopened, Australia is still closed for business. We must move beyond quarantine for international arrivals and ‘travel bubble’ arrangements, opening up to most fully vaccinated travellers.
“Without opening up we run the risk that international students, skilled migrants, working holiday makers and foreign tourists will head elsewhere.
“Business needs the borders to reopen to fully vaccinated arrivals as soon as possible. Not many are going to return to Australia if they have to undertake two weeks of quarantine.
“If students, tourists and migrants have a vaccine recognised by Australian authorities, they should be treated in a similar manner to returning Australians. Why should we ban them from entering the country when they pose exactly the same risk to the community as Australian arrivals?
“Equally, we are limiting the opportunities to kickstart our economy if we continue with ‘travel bubble’ arrangements. While opening up to international travel from Singapore and New Zealand is certainly a positive step, a small number of source countries simply cannot satisfy the losses we’re experiencing here.
“The pilot quarantine schemes currently in place also cannot meet demand. We’re never going to reach a skilled migration intake of 200,000 or return international student numbers up to 500,000 when we’re only letting in a few hundred arrivals a week at costs of up to $12,000 each.
“We are shooting ourselves in the foot if fully vaccinated Australians can come and go overseas but other international arrivals are banned. To get our economy operating at full capacity it is crucial that the Federal Government reopen to fully vaccinated arrivals as soon as possible.
“While intentions to reopen by Christmas are promising, business needs a clear timetable for the return of these groups to ensure we can maximise our economic recovery.