A day after Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia’s borders would remain closed to international travel on an ‘industrial scale’ until the second half of next year, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that the end of next year seems like a more likely time.
Presenting his mid-year economic update, Mr Frydenberg said that border restrictions would remain in place for another year as had been predicted in October’s budget. The budget stated: “Inbound and outbound international travel is expected to remain low through the latter part of 2021, after which a gradual recovery in international tourism is also assumed to occur.”
Mr Frydenberg said the outlook has not changed and the situation will not change until two vaccines manage to reach the whole population, expected by the end of 2021.
“Assumptions around slower population growth, negative net overseas migration, and the timing of the opening of international borders are unchanged since budget,” Mr Frydenberg said.
Australians have been banned from leaving Australia since March, and exemptions are needed to travel with travel for the sake of tourism essentially stopped.
Tourists have been stopped from travelling to COVID-infected countries but borders have opened with New Zealand and travel may soon be allowed with the country after NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern considers a travel bubble in the New Year.
On a more positive note, the mid-year update revised the budget deficit from $213.6 billion to $197.7 billion as the nation recovers faster than expected following lockdowns in the country, however Mr Frydenberg said ‘downside risks’ to the economy include “the timing, the distribution and the effectiveness of the vaccine in stopping the spread of the virus globally.”
The unemployment rate fell to 6.8 per cent in November as 90,000 people joined the workforce during the month, even though economists had forecast a 40,000 rise in employment, with the jobless rate remaining at October’s level of seven per cent. About 85 per cent of the 1.3 million people stood down in April are now back at work with data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing 84,200 full-time jobs were created in the November, along with 5800 part-time positions.