Border-Closed States in Australia May Have to Prop up Tourism Businesses

Border-Closed States in Australia May Have to Prop up Tourism Businesses
Cars queue at the Victorian border near a police checkpoint in Albury, Australia on July 8, 2020. (David Gray/Getty Images)

States and territories that keep their borders shut longer than needed could be forced to prop up tourism businesses that suffer the consequences.

Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said travel restrictions should be proportionate to the risks of COVID-19 across different jurisdictions.

“All the states are making fair judgments across the board,” he told ABC radio on Aug 13.

“But if we get to a point where some states choose to keep their border restrictions in place longer than even reasonable health advice would suggest, well then those states need to stump up and also help to support the tourism industry.”

Senator Birmingham said the federal government had pumped billions of dollars worth of assistance into tourism businesses and their employees, with JobKeeper wage subsidies available until the end of March.

“If the states are going to cripple their markets even further than is necessary, then they should be helping out too,” he said.

Senator Birmingham acknowledged the situation in Victoria was dire, but questioned why Western Australia was refusing to accept visitors from South Australia, where infections are almost non-existent.

He is also perplexed about the Northern Territory floating the possibility of an 18-month lockout.

South Australia will soon introduce tighter border controls.

From next Friday, people who live close to the border will only be allowed into the state if they have essential reasons for travel.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he understood the response and would try to ensure the restrictions were as workable as possible.

Andrews is also working with the NSW and Queensland premiers on ensuring agricultural products and essential supplies can flow seamlessly across state borders.

Daniel McCulloch in Canberra
Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.
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