Not that this should be much of a surprise to anyone, given how much of a complete mess their vaccine rollout has been, but the Morrison Government has today moved to state that Australia’s borders will likely remain shut until at least the end of 2022. And that means all international travel, save for to and from New Zealand, is still an absolute mile of returning.
Finance Minister Simon Birmingham this morning poured water on any suggestion that Australians would be allowed to freely leave the country anytime soon, stating in The Australian that “we won’t be seeing borders flung open at the start of next year with great ease.”
The South Australian Senator asserted that “we recognise that if Australians want to be kept safe and secure… and given uncertainties that exist not just in the speed of the vaccine rollout but also the extent of its effectiveness to different variants of COVID, the duration of its longevity and effectiveness, these are all consideration that mean we won’t be seeing borders flung open at the start of next year with great ease.”
Birmingham also referenced the “uncertainty” that faces the global community at the moment, despite being well over a year into the pandemic itself. “I think people appreciate, as we come to the point of delivering this year’s budget, it’s delivered against a global landscape of even greater uncertainty than existed a few months ago when we commenced the framing of it,” he said.
Senator Birmingham also drew a correlation between the closed borders and job security, stating that “having tight border controls has not only saved Australian lives it’s also saved Australian jobs. And whilst we want to reopen when we can have confidence that it will be safe and successful to do so, we’re not about to rush that in a way that jeopardises the health or economic safety of Australians.”
That assertion that a hard international border closure will persist for some time stands as cold comfort for the tens of thousands of Australians currently stuck overseas trying to find a way home.
Interestingly enough, it also stands as something of a contradiction to comments made last month by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who claimed he was pushing medical experts to devise a plan that would allow vaccinated Australians to travel overseas and return home without mandatory hotel quarantine.
But one arm of the Liberal Party contradicting another and then pretending the first never said anything in the first place? That’s definitely nothing new.