Inbound travel won’t be on the cards until next year, says ScoMo

Rearview shot of an unrecognizable couple spending the day in nature

International travellers will not be allowed to holiday in Australia once the border ban is lifted, according to the Prime Minister.

Following Friday’s announcement that Australia’s international travel ban will be lifted in November, Scott Morrison has clarified who will be allowed in and out of the country first.

“Well, the first cab off the rank is Australians,” The PM said on Tuesday’s episode of Sunrise.

“Australian citizens and Australian residents who are vaccinated… in New South Wales, [will] be able to travel overseas and return.

“And if you are double vaccinated overseas and you’re an Australian resident, are an Australian citizen, you’re immediate family, you’ll be able to travel under those arrangements.”

The Prime Minister stressed that it was important to establish a home quarantine model and have it running at scale before international travel resumes.

“New South Wales will have those in place next month and for the other states and territories, and I’ve spoken to Dan Andrews about this. We’re getting trials in place there as well.

“Once that home quarantine model is up and running at scale, then this will enable that to happen.”

He said the next priority would be fully vaccinated, skilled migrants and students.

“We will get to international visitors as well, I believe next year. The priority is Australians, we’re ready for take-off,” Morrison confirmed.

During Friday’s announcement, the PM said that once home quarantine pilots are complete, fully vaccinated citizens and permanent residents will be able to quarantine at home for seven days upon returning from overseas, instead of forking out thousands of dollars for two weeks in hotel quarantine.

However, unvaccinated Australians will still need to follow the pre-existing hotel quarantine requirements.

The Prime Minister has also addressed an “ultimatum” Queensland Premier Anastacia Palaczczuk gave him on Friday.

Palaczczuk said Queensland’s borders would stay closed to Victoria and NSW until the federal government increases hospital funding to “support the growth [in COVID-19 cases] that we will see”, according to ABC News.

Speaking on Nine’s Today show, Morrison said the government was not going to respond to “shakedown politics”.

“We have been showering the states with money over the course of COVID, whether it’s been in JobKeeper or economic supports, including in Queensland, where they haven’t had lockdowns, but we’ve still been providing business support for those affected by their border closure,” he said.

“The chief health officer in Queensland says they can cope with the surge that will come from COVID.

“She seems to be at odds with the Premier. So look, I’m just not going to play politics with hospital funding.”

But the Australian Medical Association’s Queensland’s president, Chris Perry, told ABC News the state’s hospitals have struggled with underfunding for decades.

“The hospitals are too small, we can’t really have a surge,” he said.

“It’s hard to get the staff, hard to get the nurses back from vaccination clinics and testing clinics, so the hospitals are understaffed.”

Last week, the health ministers of all eight Australian states and territories wrote a joint letter to federal Health Minister Greg Hunt asking for a boost in hospital funding to help alleviate the “unrelenting strain” of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the lead up to borders opening.

“All states and territories require immediate additional commonwealth funding to support pressures currently on our health systems,” the letter said, according to The Guardian.

“The increase in activity is compounded by the rapid increase in service delivery costs due to additional infection control procedures, PCR testing, maintenance of bed capacity during fluctuating demand, and capacity to respond to surges in COVID-19 cases.

“We need an urgent, practical, collaborative funding solution until we get to a ‘living with COVID’ point and the national funding model has time to reflect these higher costs.”

Featured image source: iStock/pixdeluxe

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