Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has called on Australia’s state and territory leaders to eliminate double standards associated with border closures.
Speaking to Sky News on Thursday, Frydenberg called for state and territory leaders to adopt a common national approach to define COVID-19 hotspots in order to improve economic and health outcomes, and avoid medical emergencies such as the recent death of an unborn twin.
“It’s just not on that a woman loses an unborn child because of confusion at borders. It’s just not on that a school teacher from Victoria who lives 2 kilometres away from the South Australian border is not deemed an essential worker to go and teach her class,” he explained.
“And today we hear of a grandmother of seven who is recovering from brain surgery who asked to be quarantined and recover at home but is being forced into hotel quarantine, while football officials can sit by the pool bar in Queensland,” he added, noting there appeared to be double standards when it came to state health bosses issuing border crossing exemptions.
Frydenberg’s remarks came as federal government modelling shows the state’s border closures could cost the domestic tourism industry up to $23 billion.
Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said airlines, airports, hotels, and tour operators are reliant on people doing more than a short self-drive holiday.
“We risk more job losses in these sectors if borders remain shut any longer than is necessary,” he said.
“I urge all state and territory leaders to take a sensible and proportionate approach to border restrictions, as getting more Australians travelling interstate will help save tourism businesses and jobs.”
The appeal by federal officials for state premiers to consider the economy comes after the news that Australia has slid into its first recession in 28 years, with the economy contracting 7 percent in the June quarter.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to lobby state leaders on Friday during the national cabinet meeting for the development of a COVID-19 hotspot system that would allow people to travel throughout the country.
Similar to that developed by the Danish, the Australian system would utilise traffic light colours to indicate where there are no travel restrictions, where quarantine is needed, or if a lockdown is occurring.