Topics: NSW COVID-19 outbreak, Border closures, Tourism operators,




Monique Wright:          Well, more than 100 Sydney venues are on alert as authorities’ scramble to contain the Northern Beaches outbreak, with more than a dozen locations added to the list overnight. There’s fresh hope ahead of Christmas after New South Wales recorded 15 new infections yesterday, taking the cluster to 83 after more than 38,000 tests were carried out. But other jurisdictions aren’t as confident; every state and territory now has closed its borders to Sydney-siders.


For more, we’re joined now by Trade and Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham. Thank you so much for being with us Minister, we appreciate it. Now, there are calls for National Cabinet …


Simon Birmingham:     Good morning, Mon.


Monique Wright:          … to implement a national set of rules for local outbreaks so that everybody knows what will trigger a border closure there. The Queensland Premier has said it will take 28 days of zero community transmission. Is that too long in your opinion?


Simon Birmingham:     Look, we have consistently urged states and territories to adopt some consistent approaches, but also to recognise the success that states like New South Wales have had in terms of their world-class approaches to getting people out to get tested, to applying enormous efforts around contact tracing incredibly effectively, and then to isolating all of those to be able to clamp down and crush the types of clusters that we’ve seen.


And we’ve seen this happen before, and New South Wales has gotten on top of it before. And what we hope will occur is New South Wales will enjoy the same success again, but of course, everybody needs to follow the health advice, act with due caution at present, make sure that they are doing everything they can. And we are just so incredibly grateful to Australian’s across-the-board, and particularly, those people in Sydney at present who are doing just that, making sacrifices to ensure that Australia as a whole stays on top of this thing.


Monique Wright:          Yes. For tourism operators, of course, is all about confidence, and people are rattled after perhaps not getting refunds from booking holidays which they’ve now had to cancel. What would you say to urge the tourism operators to provide refunds, even though they’re doing it so tough, so in the longer term people rebook?


Simon Birmingham:     And I do urge people on both sides to have some understanding as well as some patience in dealing with one another. That for tourism operators and businesses, the best thing that can be done is to give the travelling public as much confidence as possible to book in the future, and for that, they want to know that they’re going to get, if not all, then the vast majority of their money back, get travel credits for the future.


And I’d urge people making those bookings who now face disrupted plans to really engage thoughtfully with those tourism businesses, to know just how tough they’ve been doing it all year without customers and with ongoing disruptions. And so, if you can rebook for a later time, if you can take a credit instead of a refund, then please, think about doing so. Understand that we are all in this together, and that we do want to make sure that as many travel and tourism businesses survive through these incredibly tough times.


Monique Wright:          Simon Birmingham, we know you have to be somewhere else – we appreciate your time as always. Thank you.


Simon Birmingham:     Thank- thanks, Mon.