Most States Have (Sort Of) Come To An Agreement About Opening Borders By Christmas

"Seven out of eight states and territories want us to get back to that position in December of this year."

scott morrison

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All states and territories except one are hoping to open their borders by Christmas, a stance Scott Morrison helpfully explained using a fun analogy about leaving passengers behind at the bus stop.

Today state and territory leaders met for a National Cabinet meeting, which was heavily focused on border closures. Morrison has been fighting to convince them to open the borders and instead try to manage the virus based on where the hotspots are — unfortunately, no one can agree on what exactly a hotspot is.

Scott Morrison finally acknowledged that trying to get the premiers to agree is a Sisyphean task, and said they’re going to stop trying to reach a 100 percent consensus.

“Not everyone has to get on the bus for the bus to leave the station. But it is important the bus leaves the station, and we all agree on that,” he said.

“Even when, on occasions, some might not want to get on, they know we need to keep moving forward, and that is supported, and that’s what we agreed to do today.”

To cut through the waffle, there’s been an agreement to revise an old plan. That’s it so far — no guarantees.

Back in May the PM announced a three-step approach to gradually lift restrictions around the country, and seven out of our eight states and territories have agreed they’d like to work towards that elusive final step by December. WA is the only hold out.

If you (like me) need a reminder because May feels like it was about a hundred years ago, stage three of that original plan intended to allow gatherings of 100 again, Pacific Island travel, and interstate travel. Originally we’d hoped to reach that elusive third step by July.

“The virus prevented us from achieving that,” Morrison said today.

“Seven out of eight states and territories want us to get back to that position in December of this year. And I thank them for that commitment.

We’re in a different position to where we were back when that last plan was announced, so they’re now working on a revised plan that will get us to that final step over the next few months. The hotspot model, as a concept, will be part of that plan.

“Having that ambition is not enough, and that aspiration that we will now fashion a revised plan — just like I outlined the last one – to get us there, over these months that are ahead,” he said.

Why Is WA Holding Out?

WA has gone 146 days with no community transmission, and they’re warily watching their eastern neighbours who haven’t fared so well.

Premier Mark McGowan has defended his position, saying any outbreak in their state would have a significant impact on the rest of the country due to their position as “the engine room of the national economy.

“By almost any measure, Western Australia is in an enviable position in the new COVID world. We’ve worked so hard to achieve this and we must do everything we can to maintain it,” he said.

“Right now, a hotspot model of travel restrictions is simply not as effective as a hard border given the level of community transmission in other states. A hotspot model relies on factors outside of our control and it significantly increases the risk of an outbreak.”