Oliver Peterson: Scott Morrison coming to New Zealand and Australia's stance on borders reopening

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Australia will likely begin a “slow methodical and safe opening” of its international borders in the first half of 2022, Nick Coatsworth says.
His comments come as a new opinion poll shows an overwhelming majority of people are supportive of the international border remaining closed.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is facing renewed calls for the border to reopen from business leaders and MPs after assumptions in last week’s federal budget revealed the border would not lift until mid-2022.
Dr Coatsworth, the nation’s former deputy chief medical officer, said vaccinations would help Aussies feel more comfortable about the threat of COVID-19.
“I think at least the first half of 2022 is when we can start a slow methodical and safe opening up of our international borders,” he told Today.
“I think it’s completely reasonable for three-quarters of Aussies to not want the borders open right now.
“What we have to start a conversation with the community about is what do we do in 2022?
“What do we do when the majority of Australians are vaccinated and immune, safe from hospitalisation, safe from death from COVID-19?”
Almost three in four voters surveyed in an exclusive Newspoll for The Australian said international borders should remain closed until at least the middle of next year and supported the government’s approach.
Victorian Liberal MP Katie Allen agreed that Australia should retain its border restrictions for now, saying COVID-19 is still raging overseas.
“We are where we are because we have done the right thing, listened to the evidence, and no one thinks we should open now,” Dr Allen told Today.
“It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start having a conversation about what the future might look like.
“But we’re in a good position for now and we should stick with it.”
Labor backbencher Joel Fitzgibbon said a group of MPs pressuring Mr Morrison to open the border sooner were feeling pressure from voters in their own electorates.
But he said Australians were being asked to put their own population at risk to get stranded Aussies home.
“We are leaving people there to die, literally,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
“This would not be happening if the government had moved sooner on quarantining and indeed on vaccination.”
Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce told Sunrise the risk of coronavirus running rampant in Australia would cause real political pain for the government.
“No one likes a situation where people are locked up or held overseas, but unfortunately, we gotta go with the risks for the people here,” Mr Joyce said.
“The alternative is that people come back here and people die. Then there be a real outcry.
“People would say that ‘you are responsible for those deaths, you are responsible for my mother or father dying’.”
text by Jade Gailberger, NCA NewsWire

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