After several months of free-forming, National Cabinet has now signed off on a plan to see us through the Covid pandemic.
While there are lots of uncertainties associated with this plan, this four-phase pathway is a big step forward and has been welcomed by the Property Council and other business groups.
The agreement is based on meeting certain vaccination thresholds and yet-to-be-finished modelling being undertaken by the Doherty Institute. It is of course subject to the vagaries of Australia’s federal system, which means state and territory leaders remain the final arbiters of what happens in their jurisdiction.
And, of course, the plan is subject to perhaps the greatest unknown of all - how the virus will evolve over time.
Despite this, the pathway is a welcome acknowledgement by all jurisdictions that there will be a point where vaccinations rates enable a permanent easing of restrictions and a reopening of our internal and external borders. No more lockdowns. No more quarantine.
This is good news and will underpin business and consumer confidence, particularly as vaccine supply ramps up over coming months.
The rollout of Australia’s vaccination program will be critical. This morning I’ll be joining Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, the Coordinator General of the National COVID Vaccine Taskforce and other business groups to discuss ways the business community can support this work.
However, securing National Cabinet’s four-phase pathway has come at a significant cost. The 50 per cent reduction in international arrival caps is clearly a retrograde step.
Overseas migration, international students and high-value foreign workers are critical to Australia’s economic momentum. The Property Council has been arguing that we needn’t wait until our final steps on the pathway to welcome more of these groups back, or welcome home more Australians who are currently stranded overseas.
With an acceleration of the delivery of purpose-built quarantine facilities, we could bring our citizens home, ease skill shortages and engage with the world without compromising public health.
The Property Council will continue to make the case for policies within this new four-phase pathway that will enable our industry to drive Australia’s economic recovery.