Prime Minister Scott Morrison is looking forward to having Australia’s domestic borders open in time for Christmas as Victoria slowly returns to normal, and the national economy shows signs of improving.
Morrison thanked Victorians for their perseverance and sacrifice and said that there was now a light at the end of the tunnel.
“We congratulate Victorians—this was the announcement that they were expecting and one they have worked hard to achieve,” he said in a media release on Oct. 26. “Victorians have worked hard and sacrificed a lot to get to this point.”
He added, “We look forward to Victoria continuing to make progress on the path to reopening and joining the rest of the country at Steps 2 and 3 in the national plan.
Morrison also called on the Victorian government under Premier Daniel Andrews to provide clarity to Victorian’s in the coming days, and urged the state to relax restrictions that are not based on health indicators.
The prime minister is keen for the Andrews government to move Victoria through to the first stages of the 3-step National Framework (pdf), announced on Oct. 23, with the end goal of reopening domestic borders and creating a “COVID Normal Australia” for all seven states and territories by Christmas.
Victoria is currently entering Stage 1 restrictions while other parts of the country have moved into stage 2 or 3 of the Framework.
A Christmas Recovery?
The move forward for Victoria comes as the Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank, Guy Debelle cautiously stated that the Australian economy appears to be in recovery from the recession.
Speaking at a Senate Estimates hearing on Oct. 27, Debelle said that current economic indicators show the economy may be coming out of recession early given that economic growth was now heading into a more positive territory. He noted that the drag on the economy from COVID-19 lockdowns in Victoria had been overestimated and was less than first thought.
“The strength elsewhere in the country was more than the drag from Victoria,” Debelle said.
Morrison said he was pleased to hear the news, although he noted in a press conference on Oct. 28 that it was not possible to declare the recession over until the economic figures from September are tabulated.
“We won’t know that until December, which is when the national accounts figures for the September quarter will be released. And until then whether technically that’s the case or not, I know Australians are still hurting.”
Speaking in parliament this week, Morrison said that he wanted this Christmas to be filled with positivity for Australia.
“This Christmas I want Australians to come around the table and talk about 2021 with positivity, with hope, with aspiration,” he said. “Looking forward to what they are going to do, the schools their kids are going to go to, the training courses they are going to do, the jobs they are going to get into, the health that they will be able to enjoy.
‘Because in this country we have one of, if not the best records of managing the health and economic impacts of this pandemic of any country in the world.”