PM flags Queensland opening by Christmas

PM flags Queensland opening by Christmas

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated Queensland is now part of the framework for a national reopening by Christmas, although the Western Australian Government has still not agreed to the scheme.

Following the National Cabinet meeting the Prime Minister noted the Sunshine State had agreed to the framework, having previously been in caretaker mode.

"That is a plan to have Australia open by Christmas with the exception of Western Australia," Morrison said.

"It also is a plan that importantly embeds public health metrics in ensuring that when Australia open safely, that it remains open safely, and that's incredibly important."

Queensland is currently open to travellers from anywhere in Australia except Victoria and Greater Sydney.

Speaking at a press conference shortly after the Prime Minister's announcement Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk confirmed the "national aspiration to have the borders open before Christmas".

"In relation to Victoria we're very encouraged with what's happening down there, and we will be looking very closely at the end of the month at Victoria and also New South Wales," she said.

"There may be some hotspots. [Chief Health Officer] Dr [Jeannette] Young will assess this at the end of the month, but we are very encouraged with what we are seeing in Victoria at this stage.

Western Australia, having recently hit the milestone of seven months with no community transmission of COVID-19, will be open to most states and territories tomorrow but will still require a fortnight of quarantine for those entering from Victoria or New South Wales.

The Prime Minister also announced the publication of Australia's National Contact Tracing Report, which had attracted the interest of US President-Elect Joe Biden and will be sent to his team soon.

Scott Morrison was optimistic about Victoria's potential to open up to receive international flights, and he plans to discuss the matter with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews in Melbourne next week.

Such a reopening would boost the country's capacity to bring more Australians home, but the PM said the opportunity to receive international students through quarantine arrangements still hadn't presented itself.

"It's Australians coming home first. That is the Commonwealth policy, that is our policy, and that is the policy that is also being followed by the National Cabinet," he said.

"We need to use every available space that we have in quarantine.

"We need to continue to be careful, and we will be, so sadly that will delay any ability to be bringing international students to Australia soon."

All National Cabinet members also endorsed a national vaccine strategy today. 

Updated at 1:09pm AEDT on 13 November.

 

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