Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) boss Graham ‘Skroo’ Turner is so fed up with domestic border closures he has threatened to take the matter to court, claiming some states have cost the travel giant $100 million each month.
Turner has taken aim at Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia for not putting forward “reasonable” plans to open up to the rest of the country.
FCTG’s supremo told The Australian that the company won’t hesitate to mount a legal challenge against the states unless they rejoin the rest of Australia in reopening in line with the national plan.
“Our lawyers do believe the case has actually changed since the Palmer case on whether it is reasonable to keep the borders shut,” he said.
“We expect the state premiers to have a plan and we expect it to be reasonable. If not and the borders stay shut, we don’t have a choice but to challenge.”
The “Palmer case” refers to former member of parliament Clive Palmer’s challenge to Western Australia’s border restrictions, which was defeated early this year.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has repeatedly said Australia’s internal borders should open back up once the country achieves its 80 per cent vaccinated population target, as per the National Cabinet’s plan.
However, Queensland’s Deputy Premier Steven Miles has challenged the PM’s claim, claiming the National Cabinet’s plan does not mention state borders.
Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia have all shown hesitancy towards reopening their borders once the target is reached.
Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein has said the state won’t reopen its border until it reaches at least a 90 per cent vaccination rate.
Apparently, Turner isn’t alone in his pursuit; he claims a number of tourism bosses were also ready to take legal action if the states don’t commit to an opening plan.
“We are losing $800 million a month’s worth of sales, and that makes up about $100 million a month in our total revenue,” he said.
“We are prepared to mount a challenge ourselves, but we have been talking to quite a few companies if we have to challenge.”
Australian Chamber of Tourism chairman John Hart backed up Turner’s claim.
“The time is fast approaching for a challenge, and we’re aware of a number of businesses among our membership that are preparing for such a challenge,” he told The Australian.
“From the information we have received, we believe the challenge has significant merit and legal basis.”