Australian States Starting to Shift on Closed Borders

Australian States Starting to Shift on Closed Borders
Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Macquarie Park, Sydney, Australia on June 29, 2020. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he’s pleased the states are starting to open their borders as coronavirus case numbers drop.

Lifting border restrictions means more jobs can be created and not have coronavirus dictate the way Australians live, the PM added.

States are beginning to shift their positions on closed borders after months of stalemate.

Queensland has added five more northern NSW councils to its border bubble.

Residents in Byron Bay, Ballina, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Glen Innes will now be allowed to travel north.

South Australia is also reopening to NSW after lifting restrictions for the ACT.

The Northern Territory is offering interstate travellers up to $1000 to visit the Top End during the wet season.

And Tasmania is considering opening its borders to some states before the end of October.

“I welcome the changes ... (and) I look forward to more in the future as we open up Australia,” Morrison told Sky News on Sept. 22.

“These are common sense changes, not before time.

“I think that will just further assist getting people back into jobs and make sure we live alongside the virus, and not have it dictate how we live.”

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said his home state of Western Australia, which has fiercely protected its closed borders, could soon follow the other states and territories.

“I think I have detected a level of shifting on this front,” he told the Nine Network.

“In the end I think all of us want Australia to be restored to as close as possible to normal in a way that is COVID-safe.”

Business Council chief Jennifer Westacott said every artificial barrier to doing business put jobs at risk.

“If NSW and South Australia can get the systems in place that manage the virus, keep people safe and open their borders up then there is no reason other states can’t do the same,” she said.

Queensland recorded no new cases of coronavirus on Sept. 22 while NSW had just two, both of whom were returned overseas travellers in hotel quarantine.

In Victoria there were 28 new cases and another three lives lost, taking the national toll to 854.

The state’s 14-day rolling average and number of cases with no known source were both down on the day before.

By Daniel McCulloch