Skilled migrants may be permitted entry to Australia before the year’s end, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has signalled, as increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates rebuild business confidence across the nation.
Fully vaccinated Australian citizens, permanent residents, and their immediate families are now permitted to enter New South Wales and Victoria without undergoing hotel quarantine.
Those measures, enacted some 20 months after pandemic fears first slammed the border shut, have allowed families to reunite after long months spent apart.
But the federal government is yet to fling the doors open to skilled workers, international students, and tourists, whose absence is deeply felt in the nation’s business, education, and recreation sectors.
A lack of qualified workers in some fields has sparked a skills shortage, leaving some employers without the talent they need. Others are offering massive wages and sign-on incentives to entice the limited supply of local workers.
Speaking on “The Today Show” Monday morning, an upbeat Frydenberg said the federal government wants skilled workers “to come in before the end of the year.”
Reflecting on the border’s reopening, and the plan to allow fully vaccinated Singaporeans to enter Australia without quarantining from 21 November, Frydenberg said, “We want to extend that more broadly before the end of the year.”
“Of course we want international tourists and students as well. That work is under way. We’ll open those borders when it’s COVIDSafe to do so. Clearly the first step has already been made.”
The continued confidence in Australia’s reopening plan will be warmly received by the nation’s tourism sector, whose industry leaders are pushing for international tourists to return before the all-important Christmas season.
Australia’s university sector is paying keen attention to border developments, after watching revenues falter through a lack of international students.
As Canberra and Australia’s most populated states charge ahead with their reopening plans, Western Australia has decreed it will not reopen its borders until it reaches a 90 per cent vaccination rate — which at current rates may not occur until February 2022.
Sky News Australia reports Flight Centre boss Graham Turner is considering legal action against the Mark McGowan government, as the state’s decision gouges away at travel booking revenue.
Frydenberg did not voice his support for such legal action, but did little to defend the state’s position.
“My view is that Western Australia should not be any different to any other state that has opened up,” Frydenberg told “Sunrise”.
“They have tourism businesses that rely heavily on interstate travel and those borders being open and of course we want to see those borders open as soon as possible which means that 80 per cent vaccination rate, not at the higher vaccination rate.”