Singapore swing – pressure builds on zero-Covid states to join the great reopening

Pressure is mounting on zero-COVID states to reopen their internal borders, as international travel recommences in Australia.

Nov 02, 2021, updated Nov 02, 2021
Former Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is considering his options for another possible tilt at Federal politics. (Photo: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Former Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is considering his options for another possible tilt at Federal politics. (Photo: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has lashed out at the harsh border stance of Western Australia’s Premier Mark McGowan, coinciding with overseas arrivals landing in Australia without having to undergo quarantine.

“It is absurd that you can travel to Singapore but not to Perth,” he said.

“We need to bring an end to that and make sure all borders are open at the first possible opportunity.”

McGowan has refused to budge on reopening WA to the rest of the country.

COVID travel restrictions have been eased in many jurisdictions as key vaccine targets are reached, with state and territory leaders setting out road maps for border measures to be relaxed.

The western state is the least vaccinated jurisdiction in the country, with just 63.3 per cent of its over 16s being fully immunised.

“We have a virtually unique opportunity to get to very high levels of vaccination before such time as we have COVID come in,” McGowan said.

“Really, it’s a matter of a few months. We’re heading towards the end of this, we’re just going to remain safe whilst we get there.”

Acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce hit out at McGowan’s refusal, indicating those in Western Australia would soon want to have free travel arrangements like other jurisdictions.

“We’re all going to be jumping on planes and flying to other parts of the world,” Joyce told reporters.

“If you want to live and stay in Western Australia forever more, I don’t think (Western Australians) will, (they) will want to go overseas with us.”

It comes as the medical regulator cleared the way for more travellers from overseas to come to Australia.

Victoria has recorded 989 new COVID-19 cases and another nine deaths as a crowd of 10,000 heads to the Melbourne Cup.

It is the lowest daily case number since 986 infections were recorded for September 27.

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NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet is poised to announce new freedoms for residents after the state reported 173 new local cases of COVID-19 and four deaths.

The new cases were recorded in the 24-hours until 8pm on Monday from 58,988 tests and rose by 38 cases from the previous day.

There are 333 COVID-19 patients in NSW hospitals and 72 are in ICU.

Some 93.6 per cent of people aged 16 years and older have had one dose of a vaccine and 87.8 per cent are fully jabbed.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration on Monday approved the Indian-made Covaxin and the Chinese-made BBIBP-CorV vaccine.

As part of the reopening plan, only travellers immunised with a TGA-recognised vaccine will be able to come to Australia without having to quarantine.

Currently, international travel is limited to flights out of Sydney and Melbourne, but that will expand to other cities once vaccination rates increase.

Labor home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally said she hoped the resumption of international travel would go smoothly.

“Let’s hope and pray the border reopening goes better than the vaccine rollout did,” Senator Keneally told Sky News.

The national vaccine rate now sits at 77.5 per cent of over-16s being fully vaccinated while 88.3 per cent have had a first dose.

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