Prime Minister Scott Morrison met with Singapore leader Lee Hsien Loong on June 10 prior to joining the G7 summit in Cornwall, UK. The two PMs committed to resuming two-way, cross-border travel “when the public health situation in both countries permits,” according to a joint statement.
“There is still some time before we reach that milestone,” Morrison told reporters in Singapore.
“But there is nothing impeding us getting on with the job of putting systems in place that will enable such a bubble to emerge between Singapore and Australia.”
Defence Minister Peter Dutton said he hoped the travel bubble can open “as soon as possible”.
“It’s not going to happen tomorrow, but let’s work toward it as quickly as we can,” he told Nine News.
Dutton said students of Singapore will be prioritized to return to Australia once the travel bubble is built.
“That’s a big industry for Australia,” he said. “International student numbers have dried up so to see that start again will be important and there are many Australian jobs that hang off that industry.”
However, the Singaporean prime minister suggested that the travel bubble would not be ready before vaccination rates across both countries had increased.
Lee also said mutual recognition of vaccine certificates would be needed as well.
“When ready then we can start small with an air travel bubble to build confidence on both sides,” he said.
So far, Australia has administered about 5.4 million vaccines, behind Singapore, which has less than half of its 4.7 million-strong adult population fully vaccinated.
The leaders also signed a new memorandum of understanding on health and health technologies, agreeing to establish a $30 million partnership to accelerate the deployment of low emission fuels and clean technologies to reduce emissions in maritime and port operations.
The two parties also shared their concerns on the station in Myanmar and agreed that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations could play a significant role in facilitating a peaceful solution for the country.
AAP contributed to this report.