Australia recommits to opening up economy by December, says PM Morrison

Seven out of eight state and territory leaders recommitted to open up the economy by Christmas.
Seven out of eight state and territory leaders recommitted to open up the economy by Christmas.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

CANBERRA (BLOOMBERG) - Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said most state and territory leaders have recommitted to opening up the economy by December, but failed to secure an immediate agreement to lift border restrictions that are crippling the economic recovery.

The nation has fragmented along state lines, with many leaders barring travel from the two most-populous states of New South Wales and Victoria due to community transmission of Covid-19. That's complicating efforts to steer the economy out of its first recession in almost 30 years.

Mr Morrison is pressing for the states to agree on a definition of Covid "hot spots" - to enable borders to reopen but allow more targeted controls on inter-state travel.

Seven out of the eight state and territory leaders recommitted to open up the economy by Christmas, something that was originally envisaged by the end of July.

The state of Western Australia, the powerhouse of the nation's resources industry, was the holdout.

"In the absence of a vaccine, we may have to live this way for years," Mr Morrison told reporters.