Pressure for border roadmap

While state and national border closures are very popular with voters the federal government is under growing pressure to spell out how and when international travel will resume.

We have, in recent days, seen concerns about the possible cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix which had been rescheduled to November, the possible relocation of the 2022 Australian Tennis Open to either Doha or Dubai, and calls by government backbenchers for the border to reopen before the middle of next year.

But the Prime Minister was showing no signs of backing down last week, talking up the "saving lives and livelihoods" rhetoric in a populist appeal to community fears at a time when new, and more infectious, COVID-19 variants are raging out of control in India and elsewhere.

It is clear that regardless of what happens with vaccinations and the possible construction of additional purpose-built quarantine facilities nothing will change anytime soon.

While concerns about skills shortages, the international education sector, and tourism have all been advanced as reasons to relax restrictions they are not, of themselves, the most compelling argument to make it easier to travel abroad and to return.

The brunt of the restrictions has fallen hardest on the almost one in three Australians born overseas and the estimated one in two Australians with family abroad.

At the height of the pandemic thousands of Australians were denied the right to visit relatives, to attend weddings and funerals, and to see new born children as a result of impromptu border closures. It is far harder still for the 980,000 people who have come from the UK, the 721,000 from India and the 650,600 from China.

Australians who have family abroad deserve to know when they will be able to see their loved ones again and those Australians still stranded abroad are entitled to know when they will be able to return.

Other countries have demonstrated a willingness to host the Australian Open in 2022 should Australia's borders remain closed. Picture: Getty Images

Other countries have demonstrated a willingness to host the Australian Open in 2022 should Australia's borders remain closed. Picture: Getty Images