Doorstop – Sydney Domestic Airport, NSW

Jayne Hrdlicka, CEO Virgin Australia: Welcome, everyone. It’s great to have everyone here today on a very cloudy Sydney morning. It’s a day of great optimism with the announcements that have been made today by the Federal Government. It’s a time for everybody to get excited about getting out and about and leaving home and travelling interstate. The packages that have been offered are enabling Virgin Australia and the industry to start to get back into the air, get more people travelling around the country and get our people back to work. The commitment to international flying in October is a really positive thing, I think, for all of Australia, and it’s definitely a positive thing for our employees. We’ve got lots of people that are still stood down and not working full time hours, and this package enables us to be able to get people back to work, get more people stood up and get people excited about the future in aviation. So with that, I’ll introduce Alan Joyce, who will give you a few comments from his standpoint.

Alan Joyce, CEO Qantas: Thank, Jayne. Can I say, this is great news for Australian aviation? This is great news for Australian tourism. This is great news for Qantas, but particularly for Qantas employees who have suffered pretty badly over the last year. The first, and I think this package is the most comprehensive and has so many different components, Prime Minister, I think it has more components than an A380. But we’re just going to talk about two of them. The two components that I think makes the big difference towards first of all is the 800,000 discounted tickets. That will stimulate the market, that will get people to go to the 13 destinations, the 13 regions, and it will cover 57 different routes on our network to get people to travel to those destinations at non-peak times. Now, that’s good for the local tourism in those states, tourism that’s been devastated. And we’ve been worried about the ecosystem of those little tour operators. The hotels that are there, making sure that they can survive until we can get international tourists back as well. That ticks the box in helping them. It also means we activate more aircraft and the two aircraft behind me here are being reactivated because of this programme. The aircraft, the 737 in front of us, that aircraft has been parked on the ground since last April. It’s being reactivated from today. It goes through two weeks of maintenance, between five and a thousand hours, and then it takes a flight before we put it back in service. But this programme, that programme is allowing us to do that. That means more Qantas people back at work domestically, more Qantas people flying domestically, more engineers, more cabin crew, more pilots, which gets our domestic operation back up and running.

I have to say, the second big component that I’m actually probably most pleased about is the assistance plan for the employees linked to international operation. That’s 7,500 of our employees. Now, we know international is some time off, it’s probably not going to happen until the end of October when we have the full adult population vaccinated. But this programme allows those people to stay connected with Qantas so we don’t lose them. And that’s going to be really important because when the borders open or we need the capability to start as many flights as possible. And this will allow us, we believe, at the end of October to start 22 of the 25 Qantas destinations that we had before COVID and all 13 of the Jetstar destinations that were there. So this is great news for tourism, great news for aviation, great news for our capability being maintained. And I’d like to personally thank the Government, it’s been weeks of conversations on this. I think this package for us ticks all the boxes. It’s met all of our concerns and it’s put in something that is truly comprehensive and I think gets us through to when the borders open. More importantly, I think it also is an incentive for the states to keep their borders open. And that’s important because we can’t keep on going through the yoyo of the ups and downs of that.

So thank you, Prime Minister, in particular. Thank you, Deputy Prime Minister, the Treasurer, and Dan Tehan, and for all the work that you’ve put into this. Qantas and its people are going to be very pleased with this today. And I’m going to hand over to the Prime Minister.

Prime Minister: Thank you very much, Alan. And thank you also, Jayne. And I know Jayne’s got to catch a flight this morning. So if you see Jayne having to move off, you’ll know that’s why. Because we’re getting our airlines back in the air again and there’s lots of work to do. So we don’t want to hold Jayne back from getting that done.

This is another ticket to recovery for Australia. Australia is leading the world out of the COVID-19 pandemic and we’re leading the world out of the COVID-19 global recession. And the way we’ve been able to do that is we’ve had targeted, we’ve had proportionate, we’ve had focused, we’ve had significant support right across the economy. And now as the economy is coming back. Now as we’ve seen more than 90 per cent of the jobs that were lost during COVID comeback, we know there are still those sectors impacted, particularly by the close of international borders and have been hit hard by the close of domestic borders as well. So as we go into the next phase, as JobKeeper ends at the end of this month, together with the COVID supplement, we go into a new phase where we’ll see the economy continue to grow and continue to support jobs all around the country. But in the aviation, in the travel, in the tourism sectors, we know it will continue to be tough, particularly in those parts of the country most reliant on international tourism and that’s why today we have brought together, working with the sector, the Deputy Prime Minister, Treasurer and the Tourism Minister to bring together this package, which gives a shot in the arm to the travel, tourism and the aviation sector. 800,000 tickets to ride for Australians to go out and ensure that they can experience this amazing country. That’s what this is about. To keep people in their jobs, we’ve got to put planes in the air and we’ve got to put tourists on the ground. The Australian tourism industry needs more tourists. They want to get on and run the businesses and welcome the tourists and provide the World-Class services that they do. They don’t want to stay at home. They don’t want to be sitting there just receiving taxpayers money endlessly. They want to be running their businesses. They want to be giving Australians and ultimately later to be welcoming international tourists to their businesses and giving them the greatest experience that anyone can give in tourism anywhere in the world.

We have a world class tourism industry, and this is ensuring that they can get back to work and doing what they do best, flying them around the country, giving them that great in-flight experience and getting to the places where they want to go and enjoying and having a great experience with their families. It’s been a tough year and as the economy continues to build, as we go into these next two school holiday periods, in particular, this will ensure that there are a lot of Australians who have got a well-earned break coming and to spend that time with their families and we want to give them that opportunity to do that, while at the same time helping us to ensure that our aviation, our travel agents, our tourism operators, can get to the other side. Australians have been amazing during COVID-19. That is the rock on which we’ve built our recovery. The generosity and the resilience and the kindness and the million acts of patience that we’ve seen from Australians to get us through. So here’s an opportunity for a few more.

The other thing we’re doing today and the Deputy Prime Minister will speak about this, it’s not just the tourists. It’s what goes in the bellies of these planes, the produce, the goods, the things that are exported overseas, the things that are keeping jobs happening and continuing in so many other sectors. We’ve been subsidising those flights all through the pandemic and we’re extending that out again here today. Travel agents who are processing people’s bookings and refunds from times past without any income coming in, they’re getting continued support today from taxpayers to help them get through. So it’s another step today, an important step today and I’ll hand over to my colleagues, starting with the DPM who has been the real architect of bringing together particularly the aviation side of this package. Michael?

The Hon. Michael McCormack MP, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development: Well, thank you, Prime Minister. You can hear the roar of the engines behind me and we want to hear more of those engines roaring and we want to see more of those planes in the air. Because planes in the air equals jobs on the ground. And we’ve got the world’s best airlines, Qantas, Virgin and so many other airlines. And we’ve got the world’s best destinations to visit. For every dollar spent on an airline ticket, that equates to ten dollars spent at the destination. And we want to get more Australians visiting this wonderful country because it’s the best country in the world with the best destinations, the best beaches and the friendliest people in hospitality and tourism.

Now, we’re extending, as the Prime Minister has just said, the Domestic Aviation Network Support, DANS. We’re extending the Regional Airline Network Support, RANS. We’re also adding the aviation, the tourism aviation network support, TANS. So we’ve got RANS, we’ve got DANS, we’ve got TANS, and I know Virgin and Qantas are going to be big fans of what we’re doing today. I know all Australians are going to be big fans of what we’re doing today because it’s going to get those tourists to their places. 13 destinations, we’ll look at that, we’ll make sure that we all the way through support our aviation network, support those wonderful workers in those airlines. I know that Alan Joyce and I know that Jayne Hrdlicka would agree with me. They’ve got the best workers, they’re ready, they’re ready to rock and roll on these wonderful planes. We want to get them back in the air.

We’re also, as the Prime Minister indicated, looking at that IFAM and extending that, that international freight assistance mechanism has seen so much of the produce, the food that we produce, the fibre, it’s the world’s best. We want to get it to those trade locations. Dan Tehan, our Trade Minister, is doing a wonderful job making sure that we get our food and fibre on the world market and you do it in the belly of those planes. You do it because we’ve got initiatives such as this today. So we’re extending those airline network support mechanisms by which those regional centres, those capital cities, get flights. Some of those regional centres but for that assistance that we have provided would not have got face masks, would not have got respiratory devices, would not have got the frontline medical personnel to their airports and to their communities, but for the RANS assistance that we’ve provided. So that is continuing, along with DANS, until September 30. So it’s vital support. We’re backing the economy and we’re backing the country to get back in the air. And there’s just one thing that I would like to add. We really need those premiers, of course, to keep the borders open. That’s what it’s also going to be about. I’m so pleased that Alan Joyce has acknowledged that. We need the premiers to play ball with us as well. I’ll hand over to the Treasurer.

The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Treasurer: Thanks very much, DPM. Thanks, Prime Minister. Thanks Dan Tehan and thank you Alan for your leadership of the sector. Well, today’s package of $1.2 billion and the extension and the expansion of our $40 billion small and medium sized business enterprise loan scheme is all about one thing – jobs. Jobs taking off in the air and jobs taking off on the ground. JobKeeper has been a remarkable success story. It has supported 3.6 million Australian workers at its peak and a million Australian businesses. Today, 2.7 million Australian workers have graduated off JobKeeper. But we know that some sectors and some regions across the economy are still doing it tough. That’s tourism. That’s that long supply chain from the airlines to the tourist operators, to the cafes, to the hotels, to all those who benefit from our $100 billion domestic tourism industry. And that’s why today’s package is so broad based. It has so many different components because it’s designed to be, as the Prime Minister said, that next stage of support after JobKeeper comes to an end at the end of March. And it had to come to an end. It’s the most expensive wage support programme the government has ever undertaken in Australia’s history.

One key component of today’s programme is that expansion of the loan scheme. So businesses that have been on JobKeeper at the start of January that have a turnover of less than $250 million will be able to apply for loans of up to $5 million up to 10 years in length and with up to a 24 month or two year repayment holiday. These loans are designed to support businesses to refinance and to support their staff being employed. We are backing businesses that back themselves and the Government is taking on the bulk of the risk of those loans and we’re working in partnership with the banks. And yesterday, I spoke to the bank CEOs of the big four, and they’re all very supportive and engaged with this announcement. So this announcement today, this broad based package, is all about jobs and helping Australians get to the other side of this crisis.

The Hon. Dan Tehan MP, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment: Thanks, PM, Deputy Prime Minister, Treasurer, Alan, Jayne. As Australia’s Tourism Minister, it’s wonderful to be here today. 46,000 discount flights a week. We want Australians to do their patriotic duty, get out, book a flight and take a holiday. And if you do that, you’ll be supporting over 660,000 jobs in our tourism industry. But this package today isn’t just about ensuring that we get people travelling to our wonderful destinations right across the world. It’s also about supporting specific parts of the tourism sector. So there’s another extension of our travel agents programme. We will be providing $128 million again of additional support for our travel agents. For business events, we will be making sure that the business of $50 million business event spending that we’re undertaking is further targeted to make sure that we’re driving business events right across this country. And the very successful zoos and aquariums programme that we’ve rolled out, we’ll be extending that to make sure that people will be able to have that tourism experience that they need in visiting our wonderful zoos and aquariums and seeing the wonderful wildlife that we have at our zoos and aquariums. So I’ve got a simple message for Australians today – book a holiday and what you’re saving on your airfare, spend it in a pub, in a restaurant, on a tourism experience. Because if you do that, you’re supporting jobs right across our wonderful nation.

Prime Minister: Thank you, Dan. I’m asking for cooperation from the media, particularly for Jayne, who has a plane to get to very soon. If you’d like to direct questions to Jayne and Alan first, and then I’m happy to take questions on this package and, as usual, move to other matters later. So questions have to Jayne and Alan.

Jayne Hrdlicka, CEO Virgin Australia: Happy to take any questions. Going, going, gone.

Prime Minister: There you go, fantastic. To Alan? Sure.

Journalist: [Inaudible]

Alan Joyce, CEO Qantas: Can you speak up? All the engine noise.

Journalist: Qantas’ plan for international flights resuming from October depends on this vaccine rollout and that sort of with the targets succeeding by October. Are you concerned about the pace of the rollout thus far?

Alan Joyce, CEO Qantas: No, well, I mean, what we’ve been assuming it’s working and looking at the numbers that we should get to a stage to be, I think, the Government’s plan that 20 million people are vaccinated by the end of October. And we know there’s lots of things that the governments need to see before we can get there to the borders opening. We need to look at making sure that the vaccine stops transmission and helps with that, which looks very positive from the data that’s coming out. We have to have the successful rollout of the vaccination, which we’re hopeful, we can see the Government putting a lot of effort in to get there. And I think even in the Government’s press release today, they are talking about that being a potential date, still the potential date, for international borders to be opened up. And I think this package is designed to get us to that date. So we are putting all of our plans around getting ready by then. But we’ve always said we have flexibility. If things happen better than that, we can activate aircraft and crew earlier. If it takes place that’s going to take a bit longer, we can still park the aircraft but we’ll be ready. And the great thing about this package is it gets us ready and allows us to keep those employees, the 7,500 people connected to the airline. It gives them some income to get them through until that flying is up and running and it gives us confidence we can start to put a massive network from day one. And I think that’s the important thing. Given this virus, lots of things have happened in the past and you have to have flexibility around that. We will maintain our flexibility. This package allows us to do that and have full capability of starting international up at scale when the borders do.

Journalist: And that October deadline, sorry Mr Joyce, that October deadline, is that the health advice that you’re receiving from the Government?

Alan Joyce, CEO Qantas: So I’ll let the Prime Minister talk about it.

Journalist: Prime Minister, is that the health advice, that deadline?

Prime Minister: Well, we haven’t made any firm decision on these things, but I mean, exactly as Alan Joyce has just set out, that that’s our hope and that’s our expectation. But I’ve learnt all through the pandemic is you don’t get too far ahead of themselves. Businesses have not done that. And as Alan has just said and as Jayne has supported, this is about getting us through this next phase. And the vaccination programme is rolling out over 100,000, and a quarter of those have been in aged care facilities. As we build up to the next big phase, which is when the Australian produced AstraZeneca vaccine will come online and we’ll be able to turn things out very, very, very significantly; around a million doses a week when we get to that stage. And that’s when we start moving more broadly through the other priority areas of the population. And so that is going to create more and more opportunities. You won’t have to wait until October for there to be opportunities. As each day passes, the strength and resilience of Australia to the virus builds each and every single day, which is why state Premiers and Chief Ministers, as I’ve discussed with them on many occasions, can have growing confidence every day about not having to do the things they did have to do last year. And this package is very dependent on keeping Australia open. To keep those jobs in all of those places, we need to keep Australia open internally and that’s critical. And I really want to thank Jayne and Alan for their commitment on those 8,500, particularly international employees. I mean, more than 20 airlines around the world have gone under during the course of this pandemic. And here in Australia, we’ve maintained our two big airlines. We went through a rough patch there. And here they are standing strong, taking their part in the, in the aviation industry going forward. That’s about 27,500 jobs specifically, in both of these companies alone, that were kept in those companies over the course of this pandemic. That is a Herculean effort from our aviation sector. It’s a huge part of our economy because it enables so many other parts of our economy. You want to get tourists on the ground, you’ve got to get planes in the air. That’s how it works, particularly for those destinations this is impacting on. So thank you very much, Jayne and Alan, and for, for the leadership.

Journalist: Prime Minister, there are five Queensland destinations on this list from the statement. They seemed to specialise in border closers for a period of time. There’s one NSW destination. What about Dubbo? What about Ballina? What about Newcastle? What about the many other regional NSW areas? Why have you left NSW out in the cold?

Prime Minister: Well, we haven’t, and this is an initial program that we’re working on here and the Deputy Prime Minister can add to this, we’re starting with these with these destinations, and I would foresee that as the program rolls out and the travel industry responds – see a key part of this is once we put these tickets in the marketplace, what happens next is Alan and Jayne and their teams, they sit down with the travel industry and they start packaging it up. The 50 per cent discount on the airfare gets combined with a hotel deal, a tour out on the Reef or wherever you happen to go, and you package it up, and that’s how the travel industry works and they’re very, very good at it. And so as the travel industry responds, I think we’ll see more opportunities for this program. I really do think we will. And we’re looking for those responses to come. In New South Wales in particular, in many locations we’ve seen, because of the internal travel, and the returning strength of the Australian economy, we have seen those tourism parts of New South Wales, down the South Coast, up the North Coast, out west. I mean, you couldn’t get a hotel in Orange over the summer break. That’s fantastic for those areas. What we’re focussed on here are those areas, in particular, that are heavily dependent on international tourists, and on planes coming in to support that tourism. And, you know, these destinations — take Kangaroo Island, for example, devastated by those bushfires, and the Kangaroo Island mayor couldn’t be happier today. An absolute game changer for them down in South Australia. Michael, did you want to add to that?

The Hon. Michael McCormack MP, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development: Yeah, I just will. And I’ll acknowledge Geoff Culbert, the CEO of Sydney Airport, who’s here today. And it’s not just the airlines, it’s not just the tourism operators. It’s also the airports that are going to benefit from this. And as the Prime Minister has just said, there are 13 initial locations – the keyword there is initial. So, we’ll look at what we can do and we’ll work with the airlines. We’ll work with the tourism operators to see what other destinations may well be potentially added to the list. But in New South Wales, certainly in regional New South Wales, many of those locations are already going very nicely. Thank you to, the, what the New South Wales Government has actually been doing, the standard-bearer, the absolute benchmark for COVID treatment, for making sure that keeping businesses open has been the order of the day. And Gladys Berejiklian and John Barilaro have done a great job keeping the borders open and keeping New South Wales people travelling around, going to businesses. And regional Australia is going pretty well at the moment, in certainly regional New South Wales. I come from there and there’s 54,000 jobs in regional Australia right now as identified by the Regional Australia Institute. And we want people to visit those regional locations where they’re in a car or taking one of the half price airline tickets. And we want them to even potentially stay, to take a job, fall in love.

Journalist: Prime Minister, how can you expect people to book a flight to Queensland, when the Premier has shown she’ll shut down the border on one case, with the case of the ACT with as little as zero cases. Why are they being rewarded with all of these flights with New South Wales missing out? And have you had a guarantee from the Queensland Premier that she’s willing to be a bit more lenient?

Prime Minister: At the most recent meeting of National Cabinet, we had a very significant discussion on the issues of border closures and how in 2021 the rules are different to 2020 and the need to ensure that as our tourism industry gets back up on its feet, that borders need to stay open. We’ve made those points very clearly, and in fact, the New South Wales Premier has made them equally as clearly as I have. And so, it is essential for those parts. And let me be clear, this support is not for a premier — this is support for people in the tourism industry, in particularly in regional locations, a long way, away from our capital cities who depend on those flights coming in. In the past, they’ve come in from Japan, they’ve come in from other parts of the world, and now we want those flights to be coming up again and getting into those locations. And, you know, to Queensland is a very big tourism industry state and it has relied heavily on international tourism. And so this is about helping them, this isn’t about interstate politics. This isn’t about arguments between premiers. This is about jobs for people on the ground, and we’ll go to those locations where we think the program can best drive those jobs on the ground and help people who are really hurting, particularly right up there in north Queensland.

Journalist: [Inaudible] What would you say to the suggestion that politics has played a role in the picking a destination?

Prime Minister: I’d say it’s absurd, it’s ridiculous. I mean, the northern parts of Tasmania is the regional part of the state which needs that additional support. We already have lots of flights going into Hobart. We’re already supporting those flights through the program that the Deputy Prime Minister has already announced. And so this is providing that additional support into those locations. And so this is, this has been based on the advice that was received about those areas that best can use this support. And as the Deputy Prime Minister has said, it’s an initial list. We’ve shown all the way through this pandemic, our flexibility. We’ve been very agile where we’ve needed to move, we’ve moved. Where we’ve needed to change, we’ve changed. And that is why Australia is leading the world out of the global COVID-19 pandemic and recession.

Journalist: The tourism industry has been asking for help for several months. Isn’t this package too late?

Prime Minister: They’ve been getting help for the last 12 months, they’ve been getting help in the tens of billions – when it comes to JobKeeper and JobSeeker support, apprenticeship support, all of the supports we’ve put in, cash flow assistance. The tourism industry has been receiving all of those supports in a way that, frankly, tourism industries all around the world probably have not to the same extent that they have in Australia. What we’ve done is ensure that when the current round of support finishes with JobKeeper, because you cannot run the Australian economy on taxpayers money forever, we’ve put in place a new plan to pick up from when that program finishes because we recognise that tourism, that aviation, the travel industry is uniquely impacted as a result of the pandemic and that will be ongoing. So the tourism industry has been getting strong support, unprecedented support all the way through to now. And we heard very loud and clear, and Treasurer may want to speak, Josh has just been up in North Queensland, been through these areas and heard directly from them. And I’ll tell you what they want – they want to be running their businesses. They don’t want to be sitting at home. They want to be welcoming tourists to their region. They want to be engaged in what they set their businesses up to do. They don’t want to be living forever on taxpayer assistance. They want to be able to run their businesses again, which is what they love doing more than anything else. Josh, did you want to talk about that?

The Hon. Josh Frydenberg, Treasurer: Well, thanks, Prime Minister. Yes, I was in Cairns on Sunday and Monday and then in Townsville. To give you an example of the size of the support from the Morrison Government to Cairns alone, we have put $800 million through JobKeeper, to Cairns alone. And this has helped see more than 20,000 people in Cairns come off JobKeeper between September and December. But the message I got from the tourism operators in Cairns is that they needed some additional support once JobKeeper ends. And that’s what we’re announcing today. They needed to see more tourists on the ground, because while those international borders are closed, they would welcome more domestic tourists. So today’s list of destinations includes Cairns. We’ll see more tourists from around the country flying to Cairns, use the charter boat operators, use those cafes, use those hotels, go and shop at in those, in those streets and help drive jobs across Cairns. It’s vitally important that we continue to provide the tourists that are going into destinations like Cairns. And the other clear message is the one that Michael and the Prime Minister and Alan repeated, which is they don’t want to see those domestic borders closed. As Alan told me, in the month of January alone, he cancelled 1,500 flights into Queensland. That’s flights that were otherwise going into Brisbane, to Hamilton Island, to Maroochydore and into Cairns. Hundreds of thousands of bookings that were ultimately cancelled because of those border closures. So, if we’re going to drive more jobs in Cairns and in Hamilton Island and across the Whitsundays and across the tourism sector in Australia, we’re going to need to keep those state borders open.

Alan Joyce, CEO Qantas: Can I make a comment on that as well, that might be helpful on this, because given the network that we have, we mentioned our 57 routes covered in those 13 different regions. We’ve been in dialogue with the government about what we can see is actually struggling, what we can see as actually needing a stimulus. So, for example, on Cairns, this package will allow us to put 21 extra flights every week into Cairns. Into the Gold Coast, we’ll be putting 35 extra flights, return flights, into the Gold Coast every week. To Ballina, we’ve already doubled the amount of capacity to pre-COVID levels. It’s full there and the demand is huge in a lot of these destinations. So this needs to evolve, so I’m assuming the first 57 routes won’t be the same that we’ll have all the way through, because the scheme is set up to do that and it needs to be directed where the demand is weak, where we need to support the tourism industry – that’s what it’s designed for. And we’ll be putting thousands of seats into Cairns, into the Gold Coast, into Kangaroo Island, into the places that need it. Ballina, at the moment, doesn’t need it. It has huge capacity growth that’s bigger than where it was pre-COVID. So that’s why the scheme, I think, is a really good scheme.

Journalist: Prime Minister [inaudible]

Prime Minister: I’ll let the DPM deal with that, but the routes are based on interstate.

The Hon. Michael McCormack MP, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development: Yeah, at the moment, it is interstate. But what we want to see is people getting on those planes and travelling to another state. But again, I say it is the initial rollout, it is the initial rollout. But we want to see people in planes. So, again, planes in the air means jobs on the ground and it is going to make such a difference. I’ll get Dan to add to my remarks, but it is going to mean such a difference for those tourism operators. They’ve been so hard-hit and they need a break and they’re going to get one. And so do Australians need a break – it’s been a very, very tough 12-14 months. So take a break, take a holiday, have a half price fair on us and visit one of those wonderful locations.

Journalist: [inaudible] One of the inequities in this program, essentially pulls tourists out of regional New South Wales. Why would someone fly into Hunter Valley in NSW and then stay in Dubbo when they can get a half-price ticket to Queensland. Won’t it reduce the number of tourists?

The Hon. Michael McCormack MP, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development: Well, many of those people drive to those locations at any rate, and so many of those locations are in regional areas. And regional people, they are great travellers. I mean, it’s on, two days ago, I drove 630 kilometres right around my electorate and back to Canberra. Honestly, that’s just a walk in the park for me. I mean, I do it regularly and so do country people. They don’t mind jumping in a car, they also don’t mind jumping in an aeroplane. That’s what regional people do. It’s a big, big country. There’s lots to see and do, and I urge people to get on board. These tickets will be available very, very soon. Ring your friendly travel agent, get onto one of those airlines, get one of those tickets and don’t miss out.

Journalist: Prime Minister, just on the subject on international borders, you’re saying October 31 or let’s say the fourth quarter. Is that envisaging travel without quarantining when you come in? And on the subject of quarantine, have you had a chat to Anastasia Palaszczuk about her paying the New South Wales quarantine bill?

Prime Minister: Well, that’s a matter between New South Wales and Queensland. And there’s no need for the Prime Minister to get in between the squabbles between states. They can sort that out amongst themselves – I have other things that I need to focus on. On the other issue, look, I think it is still too soon. As I said yesterday morning when I was with the Secretary of the Department of Health, Professor Murphy, about some of those matters, they are, there’s currently work being done within the National Cabinet, led by my department secretary with all the director generals of all the other premiers’ departments, which is increasingly informing a lot of those decisions. We’re starting now to get a lot more data out from for the rest of the world, as the vaccination program is increasingly global – we’re getting more data, more evidence and the data and the evidence is good. And so that is very encouraging. The vaccination programme done safely, done properly, which is what we’re doing here in Australia. It’s not a race. It’s not a competition for the sake of people’s health – you get it right. And that’s exactly what we’re doing and, where we are, our October deadline is the one we’re absolutely working to – there’s no change to that. But what’s important is, as we see the changes, as the data shows us the impact, particularly on how it protects transmission from one to another, well, of course, that can have major ramifications for how quarantine works. It has major ramifications for the ability of Australians who are vaccinated in Australia. And we will know that because of our registration scheme of the vaccination and which vaccination they’ve had, then that obviously provides opportunities for them, in the first phases, for them to be able to travel and to be able to return and potentially not have to have certainly hotel quarantine, but home quarantine or perhaps no quarantine at all. But that will depend on the medical evidence. All the way through this, we’ve been guided by the medical evidence and that’s what will continue to condition our decisions going forward. But what’s really important about this work I’m doing with the premiers now is the health issues have always been important. But as we recover and the health position strengthens, the economic issues become even more important. So it’s just not an issue about health. That’s critically important to the decision, but we also have to take into account the balance of the risk and the impact it means on peoples’ livelihoods and jobs. And that means, you know, with this ticket to ride for Australia, we want to keep Australia open and we look forward to that strong cooperation. I welcome the additional support that has been provided by States and Territories, whether it’s the vouchers that have been done in Queensland, New South Wales or other places. States can come on board, they can get in as part of this program and get people moving around. So thanks very much for being here today. Thank you. Thank you.

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