Joyce blasts ‘hermit kingdoms’ – says it’s time for Australia to be a nation again

Businesses will go broke and mental health will decline if premiers continued to act like leaders of “hermit kingdoms” rather than part of a nation, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce says.

Sep 28, 2021, updated Sep 28, 2021
Barnaby Joyce and his National colleagues have secured a long list of concessions over net-zero reductions. (Image: AAP)

Barnaby Joyce and his National colleagues have secured a long list of concessions over net-zero reductions. (Image: AAP)

NSW and the ACT have become the latest jurisdictions to outline detailed roadmaps out of restrictions imposed to reduce COVID-19 cases.

Their confidence in moving beyond hard lockdowns and social limits comes as vaccination rates head towards the nationally agreed target of 80 per cent.

But Queensland and Western Australia are maintaining hard borders to keep their case numbers down, while their vaccination rates are well below the rest of the country.

Joyce said people were frustrated and businesses were seeking a path out of the pandemic.

“The alternative is they stay locked up like a hermit kingdom,” he told the ABC.

“You think you can live in an economy by yourself? After October, are you going to get your own navy, own air force, have your own little army?

“It’s untenable. The nation must go on as a nation.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is in quarantine after returning from the United States, said international travel could resume before the end of the year if vaccination rates continue at pace.

The latest health department data shows 51.8 per cent of Australians aged over 16 have been fully vaccinated, with the first dose figure sitting on 76.1 per cent.

The ACT leads on 61.5 per cent fully dosed, while WA and Queensland trail the pack on 45.1 per cent.

In NSW, there were 787 infections and 12 deaths on Monday as the state government outlined detail on easing restrictions when 80 per cent double-dose vaccination rates are reached.

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Major freedoms for double-vaccinated people will be granted from around October 25.

Regional travel, home visits and larger event limits are among the measures.

People who are not immunised will be allowed to reintegrate into society on December 1 when further restrictions will be eased.

International passenger arrival caps will likely be lifted from that date.

Melbourne is due to end lockdown when a 70 per cent double-dose rate is reached in late October, before a more significant easing of restrictions around November 5.

Victoria recorded 705 new cases and one death on Monday.

Canberra had its first death during this outbreak and fourth overall, as well as 19 new cases.

The ACT will ease restrictions slightly on Friday before lockdown lifts in three stages from October 15.

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