- The Queensland government has revealed it has considered reopening exclusively to New South Wales as part of a travel bubble.
- The idea, while improbable, is one under consideration if the COVID-19 situation worsens in Victoria.
- However, the Palaszczuk government maintains its preference is to open to all Australians on 10 July.
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The Sunshine State is getting ready to welcome visitors back as Australia look to escape the colder months.
Having adopted one of the toughest stances of any state, the Palaszczuk government has tentatively nominated 10 July as the day it’ll reopen to the rest of the country.
However, having made clear that the day is dependent on the number of COVID-19 cases in Australia, the state has concocted a novel idea if it’s not happy with the status of containment, particularly in Victoria.
Deputy Premier Steven Miles told The Brisbane Times “some work has been done” on figuring out how Queensland could create a travel bubble with New South Wales.
“It is difficult to see how we could enforce something like that but certainly throughout this whole situation we have assessed all of the possible options and that has been one that has been considered at different points in time,” he said.
“It would be possible, I think it is probably unlikely.”
While New South Wales has had more cases than Victoria, the latter’s level of community transmission presents a far more pressing concern to states like Queensland, which has just five active cases. New South Wales visitors coincidentally also represent nearly 30% of all domestic tourism in the Sunshine State, compared to Victoria’s 21%.
However, while preferencing one state over another might make sense on paper, the improbability of setting up a domestic travel bubble is a difficult undertaking both legally and logistically.
Queensland and Western Australia’s current travel bans are already being challenged in the High Court by Clive Palmer and a range of tourism operators backed by One Nation, based on the constitutional premise of “absolutely free” trade and movement between states.
While those challenges are yet to be decided, the impracticalities of a travel bubble are just as tall an order. Exactly how a state, particularly one with shared borders as large as Queensland, could filter out domestic arrivals is unclear – a shortcoming Miles acknowledges.
It would also put the state on a collision course with the federal government which has pressured it to reopen so it can begin flying in international university students.
The Sunshine State certainly isn’t the first to consider it, with Tasmania contemplating striking a similar deal with South Australia and Western Australia.
Queensland maintains its preference is to lift all travel restrictions and reopen to everyone from 10 July unless the situation worsens.
However, with Victoria’s school holidays ending a week earlier than New South Wales on 12 July, they look destined to miss out one way or another.