Interview with Paul Murray, Sky News
Paul Murray: Dan Tehan is the Federal Tourism Minister. He wants international travel back, he wants it for Christmas. Had a chance to talk to him earlier today.
Dan Tehan: Well, I have a lot of hope and I think that the way that we're going in terms of heading towards that 80 per cent vaccination rate means that we will be able to implement the national plan before Christmas and the national plan says that we can open the international border when we hit that 80 per cent national rate and when each state and territory hits that 80 per cent rate. So, if you take the way that New South Wales is going, for instance, they'll meet that before Christmas, as will Victoria, by the current rate. So, I'm really hopeful that we'll have that international border open before Christmas, which is wonderful, wonderful news.
Paul Murray: Now, Minister, good to see what the federal government ambition is. We all know what the national plan is, but do states still have the right to say ‘no’ to opening their part of the international border at 80 per cent?
Dan Tehan: Once we hit that 80 per cent national rate and then the individual state is at that 80 per cent rate then, yes, working with the Commonwealth Government, we will put in place the plans that will work for that particular state. We want to have a national approach, but obviously what we're going to see is some states that reach that 80 per cent rate before others. So, we'll work with them as we open the international border so that they can welcome Australians back home and, obviously, we'll have to look at what quarantine arrangements will be put in place. We'll hopefully be able to do it with travel bubbles, which means that where we can we'll try and limit the quarantine requirements consistent, obviously, with health advice.
Paul Murray: We know there are a collection of these special built facilities, places like Howard Springs. What's the likelihood that Australians will end up there or they'll end up at home to do their quarantine?
Dan Tehan: Well, I think for Howard Springs we're probably more likely to see it over time be used if we need to bring agricultural workforce in, it might be where you might need it for international students. I mean, my hope, for returning Australians, especially as Australians return home for Christmas, is more and more will be able to use home quarantine, where necessary there might be still some hotel quarantine. So, hopefully we'll be able to take a very practical approach to these things, working with states and territories to put in arrangements which means, on the whole, that people can move as quickly and as freely as they possibly can while keeping the community safe.
Paul Murray: Now it all depends on what model you check, but some models suggest places like Victoria that only hit double dose of 80 per cent until the first week of December. So, is it more likely we're talking about when we say open for Christmas we're talking closer to the 25th than the 1st of December?
Dan Tehan: Look hard to tell, but what I've said is that we're on target to have the international border open by Christmas at the latest. I would love it to be sooner. What I'd say to everyone listening tonight, if you can, roll up your sleeve and get vaccinated. Do it tomorrow because the sooner we hit that 80 per cent mark the better and especially for our tourism industry and the 660,000 jobs in Australia that are reliant on the tourism industry.
Paul Murray: And just finally, if states decide that they're not going to open either their domestic or international borders, have you heard anything from airlines that even when they do, they won't be landing there anymore?
Dan Tehan: Air travel, the demand is going to pick up, and the airlines are going to want to service that demand and so if there was a state which dragged the chain, then I think the airlines would want to go and meet the demand where it was. So, that will have consequences, obviously, for aviation services into that state and territory and ultimately, for their tourism industry.