- Scott Morrison has indicated there will be some scope to exempt certain Australians from the country's international travel ban.
- On Thursday, he told 2GB Radio that essential business travellers will be allowed to come and go, while a small cohort of international students will also "test" the country's quarantine measures next month.
- "I can't honestly see international travel more generally... [happening] again anytime soon," he said.
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Australians will be prohibited from heading overseas for the foreseeable future – unless they're part of a tiny group exempt from the rule.
"I think there will be the opportunity for Australians to engage in essential business travel," he told 2GB Radio.
Morrison acknowledged there was already some leeway for them at the moment, "provided the quarantine arrangements are put in place when they return", but suggested it could soon become easier for businesses.
"We are just looking to be as practical as we can about this ...and open up the economy as much as possible because that is what is going to get the jobs back."
However, business travellers look to be among very few exemptions to the rule – at least initially.
"There is a bit of a glass ceiling on the economy when it comes to the ultimate restrictions on that, I can't honestly see international travel more generally, people coming from all over the world to Australia, [happening] again anytime soon," Morrison said.
The Morrison government and airlines appear to be on the same page. Qantas has announced it has cancelled all overseas flights until late October after Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham revealed international holidays are off until next year.
One early experiment will be the plan unveiled last week for Australian universities to fly in and quarantine groups of international students, with around 300 expected to arrive in the ACT next month.
Morrison referred to it as a "test" on Thursday, suggesting that if successful it would not only be expanded in numbers but also open up the door to similar exemptions.
First, however Australia will need to open to itself – a task that is proving more difficult than it sounds, as states feud over exactly who they'll be letting in and when. It in itself is proving a test for Morrison's leadership and his National Cabinet, with the PM having long-pressured them to reopen.
"Some 5,000 jobs have been costed a week on this...this is why borders should be opened up. There's never been any advice why they should be closed," he said.
Queensland is expected to open its borders on 10 July, and others are working on their own timelines. Once they do, a travel bubble to be created with New Zealand is expected to follow later this year.
The PM made the comments ahead of labour force figures due to be released later today, with around 80,000 more jobs expected to have been lost in May.
"We're in a recession and when you're in a recession these are the sorts of heartbreaking numbers you have to deal with," he said.
"We can't stop the blow...[and] businesses are having to make some very difficult decisions about where [they] are heading."
- International travel won't be an option until 2021 at the earliest, according to a survey of Australian economists – with one big exception
- Just 2,250 international travellers arrived in Australia during April thanks to the coronavirus travel ban. Here's where they came from.
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