International travel will remain off the cards until at least 2022, according to Treasurer Josh Frydenburg, as Australia’s Prime Minister revealed he did not think Australians had the “appetite” for international travel.
During an interview about Tuesday’s federal budget, Frydenburg told ABC News that the upcoming Budget would assume international borders will open next year, despite the government predicting borders would open this year in October’s Budget.
The Treasurer said Australia’s economic recovery had not yet been secured and that the pandemic brought new uncertainties.
“This is showing you how fluid the economic situation is with respect to the virus, but we have an assumption based on the borders opening. It’s in 2022,” he said.
“But again, we’ve got to follow the health advice, and the Prime Minister has repeatedly made that point, we don’t move ahead of the health advice, we’ve got to ensure that our community stays safe and when we suppress the virus as we’ve successfully done, our economy recovers, and recover strongly.
“That’s the momentum we have to continue in this budget all about securing that economic recovery and keeping Australians safe.”
The Treasurer’s comments echoed Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s warning that Australia must not give up its freedom when it comes to public restrictions when there are still “many uncertainties ahead”.
“I don’t see an appetite for that at the moment,” Morrison told The Daily Telegraph, in relation to opening the country’s international borders.
“I think what we’re seeing at the moment is the appreciation of the people that the pandemic isn’t going anywhere.
“We sit here as an island that’s living like few countries in the world are at the moment.
“We have to be careful not to exchange that way of life for what everyone else has.”
Morrison said the situation in Australia is different from the UK and Europe because they have been “riddled” with the virus since the get-go and “can’t turn back”.
“All I know is once you let it back in … you cannot get it out. You’ve crossed that threshold. You move into another dimension.
“At this point in the pandemic that is a very uncertain world.
“We continue to roll out the vaccination program, over the course of this year, and in the meantime, I intend to be cautious – it’s in my nature.”
The Prime Minister has also announced that Australia’s pause on flights from India is expected to lift as planned on 14 May.
Currently, those who enter Australia after having been in India less than 14 days prior, will be hit with fines of up to $66,600 or five years in prison or both.
The ban has copped backlash from many advocacy groups, including the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC).
This comes following claims that the government’s international travel ban may put Australians’ fundamental rights at risk.
On Thursday, a lawyer for conservative think tank LibertyWorks argued in the Federal Court that Australia’s Biosecurity Act did not allow the government to ban international travel.
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