The Ai Group has called upon the National Cabinet to seriously consider options to fast track the opening of both state and international borders. The national peak business representative body outlined a set of measures for consideration by the National cabinet to open up Australia to the rest of the world.
The measures include:
- Allowing fully vaccinated business travellers the automatic right to depart and return to Australia.
- Allowing fully vaccinated Australian business travellers and business visa holders and returning Australians who pass a COVID-19 rapid test on arrival and at regular intervals after arrival to home quarantine in all states and territories as is being trialled in South Australia.
- Removing the travel arrival quota for fully vaccinated business travellers and business visa holders and returning Australians.
Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association said that this combination of measures was key to opening international borders. He argued that allowing fully vaccinated individuals into Australia would help businesses and help stranded Australians return home.
“Fully vaccinated people are known to be far less likely to spread COVID-19 and, particularly if backed up with rapid testing, it makes sense to take advantage of the opportunities of home quarantining to loosen the shackles of business isolation and to bring back Australians who are queuing to come home,” Mr Willox said.
International border closure hurts business opportunities
Ai Group says that continued international border closures are significantly damaging the Australian business community. It claims that disallowing international travel will not only impair current business opportunities but will damage Australia’s long term ability to compete internationally.
“We have now reached the point where governments need to look seriously at more rapidly opening our borders and removing barriers to business travellers and returning Australians, Mr Willox explained.”
“Employers across the country have put investments on hold for too long. They are losing business opportunities to their overseas competitors whose economies and countries are open for business while Australia is locked tight as a drum.”
International borders have remained closed since March of 2020, with strict conditions of entry and 14 days mandatory hotel quarantine. Business representatives have drawn attention to the ways these measures are restrictive on Australian enterprises operating effectively.
Prohibitive business conditions
Mr Willox said, “While travel exemptions for business travel can be obtained successfully if strict criteria are met, the barriers to doing business in other countries remain prohibitive for many. These include the risk of being bounced off return flights when inbound quotas are reached and the costs, stress and indeed risks of hotel quarantine on return.
“These barriers are removing opportunities, delaying investments, and stifling the ability of businesses to grow and add to domestic employment. Companies in other countries are not facing these barriers, and we are putting ourselves at a disadvantage.
The request comes as COVID-19 spreads throughout Australia, NSW and VIC endure lockdowns and many state borders remain closed. Travelling even within Australia has become a risk for many businesses.
International arrivals have been slashed while states try to get on top of local outbreaks and community transmission. The harsh International border restrictions also mean that many Australians are still stuck overseas, unable to get home.