The Department of Home Affairs has responded to NRI Affairs query regarding Australia’s border opening on 15 December.
Further to the NRI Affairs news story on Saturday whether Australians could travel overseas from 15 December, the Department of Home Affairs has referred us to the following interview by Prime Minister Scott Morrison:
Journalist: So will international borders open on December 15?
Prime Minister: Well, we’re taking more advice at the moment, but that is certainly our disposition I should, I should flag. I said that the other day. What we wanted to just pause to ensure that we could get a bit more information. We’ve been receiving more information. And Brendan, you might want to comment on this, but we have seen the severity of the illness playing out to date, as the early indications were, I think it’s fair to say, Brendan. And that is that is potentially quite a game changer with the pandemic around the world about how the virus may well step down. But we’ll see, it’s a little too early to make those sort of judgements. But our plan is to keep moving forward, not to go back. We’re not looking in the rear vision mirror, we’re not going back to what Australians have had to go through. We’re going to go forward and we’re going to live with this virus. And the reason we can do that is because of the decisions we’ve taken, the achievements that have been made in the vaccination programme, the strength of our economy, the resilience of our people. And now by bringing 5 to 11 year olds into that, that only further strengthens us to be able to deal with and live with this virus and live with it together, as the national plan set out many months ago. But Brendan, do you want to comment?
Professor Brendan Murphy, Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Health: Yes, certainly PM. So we’re still learning about the Omicron variant. The information out of South Africa suggests that we’re not seeing a high incidence of hospitalisation and severe disease, but we still need to learn more. We have to get information from other countries who now have significant clusters of this virus. We’re still doing lab testing on this variant. And as I said before, there is a suggestion that the vaccines will benefit from a booster to protect against this strain. We don’t know how it will spread in Australia, but we do know that it is here and certainly in Sydney, and it is likely to spread. But we don’t need to panic. We just need to study it more and very importantly, make sure we get boosters. What we’ve seen across this country now with the sustained transmission in Victoria and New South Wales is very low rates of hospitalisation and severe disease in the vaccinated population. These vaccines do protect people against serious disease, and mild COVID is very different from serious COVID. So we are living with this virus now and we’re going to have to adapt to that as we move forward. Thank you.
Chaman Preet, Director-Migration And Education Expert, advised caution to people planning overseas travel during the holiday season.
“There is a lot of confusion around the 15 December travel ban changes. The national cabinet has on Friday 10 December not announced anything clearly around the opening of the international border. Our strong advice would be to not book your tickets. There would be more clear communication as we approach closer to the date. Till then, it’s best to wait and watch the space”, Chaman Preet said.