Vaccination passports could give Canberrans who had received the jab more freedom to travel interstate despite lockdowns and outbreaks, as well as attend large events, but while Chief Minister Andrew Barr is open to the concept he wants to see more details.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison flagged the plan last week, saying it was the “next most achievable step” with borders being closed until at least mid-next year according to the government’s budget projections.
The freedoms that vaccinated Australians would experience could also be used as a trial for when international borders reopen and unlock quarantine-free international travel.
The IATA, the trade association for 290 airlines worldwide, has been in discussions with Australian agencies about a mobile travel pass for travellers who have been vaccinated.
Qantas has reportedly trialled the pass along with a similar product called CommonPass.
But Mr Barr said that while it was a proposition that looked good, he wouldn’t base his position on what the Prime Minister said at a press conference.
“I would want to see a fully formed proposal come forward, not something that has been thrown out at a press conference that is a bit of a thought bubble,” he said.
Any proposal would need to flesh out what the passport would enable you to do and how long it would be valid for.
There remained the caveat that vaccinated people may not be protected against transmitting the virus.
Mr Barr said if a vaccinated person ended up becoming a super spreader and seeded the virus to unvaccinated people, it would undo all the hard work the country had done in the past year.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has rejected the notion that Australia should have internal borders at all and has previously expressed her frustration at her Queensland counterpart Annastacia Palaszczuk for closing the NSW-Queensland border when hotspots and outbreaks arise in Sydney.
Mr Barr said that while NSW would not dictate the ACT’s position, the stance of other states – including Queensland and Victoria – would weigh on the decision due to Australia’s eastern seaboard states being primary travel destinations.
Mr Barr also said it was a “massive national failure” that the Commonwealth had not built more quarantine facilities like Howard Springs in the Northern Territory.
Such facilities could allow more Australians to return to the country and reduce the risk of the virus escaping as it has from hotel quarantine.
While such a facility in theory could be built on Commonwealth land near Canberra Airport, the ACT would be the “eighth on the list” of jurisdictions that could house a viable quarantine facility, Mr Barr said.