PM pushes for greater tolerance for risk ahead of national border framework

Prime Minister Scott Morrison calling on the country to reframe its attitude to Covid-19 allowing for an end to state border closures and snap lockdowns.

Led by Phil Gaetjens, the secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the National Cabinet is working on a new risk management framework that outlines a more unified response on border controls and shutdowns.

“The 2020 response to COVID-19 must be different in 2021. Why? Because the risk has changed,” Morrison said.

Speaking at The Australian Financial Review Business Summit, Morrison said it is “not just about health because the health risk is diminished”.

“It’s about the economic risk, the impact on livelihoods, the impact on regions,” he said.

“And it’s important that all premiers, chief ministers, prime ministers make decisions that are very commensurate with the new risk framework that we are facing this year, which is different to last year.

“And so for that reason, I expect the decisions made this year should be different to last year.”

The framework has the backing of NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, but other state and territory leaders might be harder to win over.

“There was and is absolutely no reason for closing internal borders within Australia,” Berejiklian said.

“On the notion that there may be a case here or there, it is complete overreaction.

“At the end of three weeks’ vaccination, [when] all the high-risk people have been vaccinated, the risk is massively diminished.

“There is no reason why internal borders should even be an issue. I think it is an embarrassment.”

WA Premier Mark McGowan has enjoyed rockstar status in his home state following his hardline on border closures and said it was “too early to speculate about these things”.

“Let’s just roll out the vaccine,” he said. “Let’s be cautious and precautionary.

“We will keep the border option available to us to prevent the virus coming in into the future.

“You never know when there is [going to be] another pandemic.

“I don’t understand why there is always this sort of argument, particularly from the Liberal party, to undermine what works.

“Why do they want to tear it down? It has worked so well.”