Canberra has yet again taken aim at the states and territories, with the federal Tourism Minister using modelling that predicts a $55 billion tourism hit to slam “disproportionate” approaches to borders.
According to the Australian Associated Press (AAP), Simon Birmingham said “inconsistent” and “disproportionate” approaches to border restrictions were costing jobs across the country, pointing to modelling produced in May from Tourism Research Australia.
The research, which ABC News reports was officially released this week ahead of a discussion over state border closures at Friday’s National Cabinet meeting, predicts spending on domestic tourism could fall by at least $23 billion this financial year.
It also showed that the cost of keeping Australia’s international travel ban in place would reach $31 billion over the same period, under the assumption it would not lift until at least July 2021.
Furthermore, the value of the domestic tourism industry overall was expected to fall from $138 billion to $83 billion, even before ongoing state border closures were taken into account.
According to the AAP, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to lobby state and territory leaders to ease border restrictions at Friday’s National Cabinet meeting.
The PM wants states to adopt a uniform approach to defining coronavirus hotspots, so people can move more freely across the country without jeopardising health outcomes. Morrison is also aiming for Australia to return to as much normality as possible by Christmas, provided medical advice supports it.
Senator Birmingham said airlines, airports, hotels, and tour operators rely on people doing more than taking a short self-drive holiday.
“Inconsistent and disproportionate approaches to border restrictions by some states and territories will continue to cause job losses in parts of our tourism industry,” Birmingham said, as reported by ABC News.
“We risk more job losses in these sectors if borders remain shut any longer than is necessary,” he told the AAP on Thursday.
“I urge all state and territory leaders to take a sensible and proportionate approach to border restrictions, as getting more Australians travelling interstate will help save tourism businesses and jobs.
“Getting Australians travelling across parts of our country that have successfully suppressed the spread of COVID-19 will be critical to getting elements of our tourism industry back on its feet.”
The Senator’s comments come just a day after it was confirmed Australia had officially entered its first recession in almost 30 years, with ABC News explaining that Bureau of Statistics figures show GDP fell seven per cent for the June quarter, a fall considered the worst on record.
Meanwhile, states and territories have defended their right to maintain border restrictions, ahead of Friday’s National Cabinet meeting where the prime minister is expected to push for a nationally-agreed definition of a COVID-19 “hotspot” – a task Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth described as “very challenging”, according to ABC News.
Both the Western Australian and Queensland state treasurers argued their states were performing better than those without strict measures in place, reportedly off the back of the release of Wednesday’s national accounts figures.
WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt tweeted: “WA’s hard border is no drag on the national economy”. While Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick retweeted his WA counterpart’s social media post, saying “stronger action on borders has Queensland better placed for a strong economic recovery”.
— Cameron Dick (@camerondickqld) September 2, 2020
It comes after Morrison warned the federal government would adopt a hotspot definition regardless of whether state and territory leaders agree.
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