Opinion: Lowering Fortress Australia’s drawbridge

As migrants leave Australia desperate to see loved ones and our country risks becoming isolated as the rest of the world starts opening up, it’s time to begin dismantling Fortress Australia and replace it with reliable quarantine facilities and an accelerated vaccine rollout.

Australia has excelled during the pandemic and the Committee for Adelaide has strongly supported the largely closed borders that have prevented tragedy and helped us become the third most liveable city in the world.

But this pandemic will be with us for the foreseeable future and while no-one is suggesting a free-for-all when it comes to borders, a roadmap is needed which strikes the right balance between economic recovery and public health and safety.

We’ve been told the vaccine rollout is not a race, but it is – and it’s one we’re losing.

We need more secure quarantine facilities – a cheap investment in our future when considering the billions of dollars of economic damage caused by lockdowns – home quarantine options for people who have been fully vaccinated and an accelerated approach to opening up our borders to stranded Australians and international students, providing enormous human and economic benefits.

Our international education industry – our State’s number one export industry – has been decimated and its impacts are being felt by shops, restaurants and accommodation providers. With the UK, Canada and the US remaining open to students, we’re losing ground that will take years to recover.

We’ve been told the vaccine rollout is not a race, but it is – and it’s one we’re losing.

On any measure, whether looking at who has had two shots, one shot or the percentage of the population vaccinated, Australia is lagging far behind.

While Victoria’s lockdown has helped Australia to shed some of its vaccine complacency, we have a long way to go and the more we hesitate, the longer it will be until Australians can be reunited with loved ones overseas while trade and business will suffer.

South Australia’s success has been built on international migration. Without it, our population would have gone backwards years ago while global talent has helped shape the future of local industries such as cyber, defence, space and biomedical, creating new opportunities and jobs for locals.

While interstate migration has been positive for the first time in 30 years, it’s unlikely to fill a looming skills gap in South Australia and that has many businesses worried.

There is no doubt that closing our borders has been the right decision during this pandemic but with the rollout of vaccines and a better understanding of the importance of stand-alone quarantine facilities like Howard Spring in the Northern Territory, we now have new weapons in our fight against COVID.

It’s time to urgently put these to good use to chip away at Fortress Australia and ensure that the way we handle the second part of this pandemic is just as successful as the first.

See the original article in InDaily here.

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