If Melbourne’s quarantine failures and lockdown has proven one thing, it is that Australia’s international border must remain closed to all but returning citizens and permanent residents.
Otherwise, we risk repeated importation of COVID-19, fresh community outbreaks, and a never-ending series of costly shutdowns.
Alas, it was disconcerting to read yesterday that the Morison Government still intends to open Australia to international students at the first available opportunity:
“We are a welcoming nation with a world-class education system and some of the lowest rates of Covid-19 in the world.
“Students want to study here and we want to welcome them back in a safe and measured way when it is safe to do so” [acting immigration minister, Alan Tudge said]…
The education minister, Dan Tehan, said Australia’s “remarkable efforts in controlling the spread of the virus mean we can begin to welcome back international students in a Covid-safe way once state borders reopen and face-to-face learning resumes”…
Australians universities have begun drawing up plans to allow international students to return to the country under a series of pilot schemes.
There is no such thing as a “COVID safe way”, especially when key source nations like India, Nepal and South America are literally overrun with infection.
Nor should Australian taxpayers have to foot any part of the costs associated with quarantine, including accommodation, feeding, supervision and testing. These costs must be 100% borne by the students and universities.
New Zealand, which has eliminated the virus, has ruled-out welcoming back international students anytime soon because the costs are too great.
Australian policy makers should take a leaf out their book and aim for elimination coupled with stringent quarantine for returned residents.
Otherwise, we will forever experience rolling lockdowns and the associated economic carnage.