“The ban on Australians travelling overseas may have made sense as an early emergency measure but it is today a barrier to business that can be easily and safely removed,” Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association AiGroup, said today.
“In other countries where restrictions remain in place for departing travellers these are sensibly ‘recommendations’ rather than ‘bans’, as is the case here.
“Ai Group members are finding that while requests for overseas travel are being quickly processed, not all are approved. Rejections then need to be appealed and success is not guaranteed.
“Companies looking for new business opportunities overseas need to eyeball their potential business partners to forge a new relationship or to negotiate a new contract and Zoom chats are often not enough. The importance of the travel may not be apparent to the approving officer and there is a real risk that rejections could and have led to lost business opportunities and ultimately cost Australian jobs. I’ve heard from CEOs who have given up on overseas acquisitions because they couldn’t get to see them.
“Employers appreciate the risks involved in travel and should be able to decide themselves if travel is essential.
“Other countries are able to deal with business travellers in various ways including requiring COVID-19 tests on their return home and with positive tests requiring a period of mandatory quarantine.
“We can’t keep Australia closed to business forever. Safely loosening outbound business travel restrictions would be a good start to getting business going again. At the very least, the Government should signal a firm date on which such outbound travel restrictions will be reviewed and lifted,” Mr Willox said.