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