“It’s very difficult to put a time frame on it but when you look at the plan that Singapore have put in place and you put it alongside the plan that the Prime Minister has announced, the hope might be towards the end of the year that you could look at a travel bubble with Singapore.”
As national governments and international bodies such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) work through how to safely ramp up international travel, Mr Tehan was reluctant to put an exact length of time on how long vaccine passports would be needed for international travel.
“If we are able to open up next year, you would expect that you’re probably looking at 12 months or two years where this is going to be part of what you’re doing, it could be like the little yellow booklet for yellow fever”.
“This is where I think we can do some really ground-breaking work with Singapore, to make sure you’re getting that inter-operability to start with and then make sure that it is consistent with within what you’re trying to do globally.”
The Singaporean government announced a detailed road map in June to effectively allow the city-state to live with the virus. Over time, the reporting of cases will shift from total numbers to people in intensive care – much like the flu – lockdowns will end and international travel will resume, quarantine-free.
More than 35 per cent of Singaporeans are fully vaccinated compared to just over 10 per cent in Australia, while more than 60 per cent of people have had their first jab, compared to just over 30 per cent in Australia.
The Morrison government subsequently outlined a four stage plan to end lockdowns and begin re-opening Australia to the world, subject to sufficiently widespread vaccination.
Growing and strengthening Australia’s trade relationships in the region – at a time when China has hit Australian exports of barley, beef, wine and other exports with punitive measures – will also be a key focus of the trip.
“The US is second, Japan is third, South Korea is fourth, Singapore is sixth, and Vietnam 13th in terms of destinations for our exports. These are key trade economies for us,” Mr Tehan said.
“They’re also keys when it comes to a free and open Indo-Pacific. They’re the key countries for us to engage in, making sure that we can pursue a free and open Indo-Pacific at this time of geo-strategic complexity in the Indo-Pacific, and obviously strategic competition between the US and China.”
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