Saturday 22nd of January 2022



The federal opposition likes to deride Scott Morrison as the Prime Minister for New South Wales.

But with a new leader in that state it's increasing clear that it's not the opposition causing him headaches but a man fast earning a reputation as the Premier of Australia, Dominic Perrottet.

Perrottet's decision to throw open the international border was done in a way that left Morrison on the political back foot and his office scrambling to catch up.

It brings with it a fundamental change to Australia's response to the deadly global pandemic. 

And in doing so, the NSW Premier managed to sideline a Prime Minister who's spent the last 18 months eager to announce any major change to Australia's handling of COVID-19.

Just two weeks earlier, a breathless Morrison, himself locked in quarantine after returning from the United States, called a press conference so he could rush out and announce the international border would reopen and vaccinated Australians would be able to quarantine at home.

It was hastily arranged so he could front the cameras before Gladys Berejiklian announced she was resigning as NSW Premier. 

There was no set date on when the borders would open, rather it would be based on when states hit 80 per cent double vaccination thresholds.

But now there is a date — November 1. From that day, people in NSW will be able to travel as freely to Newcastle, on the north coast, as they can to Newcastle in the UK.  

Whether ot not they can travel to other states remains to be seen.


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not so fast...

PM reins in Perrottet’s border opening parade

The Prime Minister reminded Australians that he decides who enters the country after the NSW Premier declared the state “open for business” from overseas from November 1.


Vaccinated Australian citizens, residents and their families – now including overseas-based parents – will be allowed to freely enter NSW from next month, but the federal government is not yet allowing business travellers, skilled migrants or international students.

The NSW government on Friday announced hotel and home quarantine would no longer be required for fully vaccinated people entering NSW, including those coming from overseas, from November 1.


NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said the state was open for business “for double-vaccinated people around the world”.

NSW will remove the cap on the number of vaccinated travellers allowed into the state. However, it will allow only 210 unvaccinated people to enter from overseas each week and they will have to complete 14 days’ hotel quarantine.


But Prime Minister Scott Morrison stressed it would not be open slather for everyone in the world to come to Australia, saying the Commonwealth would stick to its plan of allowing travel only by Australian citizens and residents and their families at first.


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moving on...

A couple of weeks ago, without consulting the states, the Prime Minister announced he would be re-opening the international borders in states where the vaccination rate had hit 80 per cent.

"It's time to give Australians their lives back," Scott Morrison said, in what appeared for all intents and purposes to be a move designed to ensure he was the bloke getting the credit for opening things up, whatever states and territories might be doing, not to mention giving the whole opening up thing a good nudge along the way.

The fact he hadn't mentioned it to the states — despite the significant ramifications it has for them as the ones responsible for trying to manage the spread of COVID-19 and the quarantine system (offloaded by the federal government) – meant the Prime Minister could hardly complain on Friday when the new NSW premier Dominic Perrottet returned the favour by announcing his government would be removing both quarantine requirements and caps on overseas arrivals from November 1.

Perrottet didn't mention it to any of the other states either of course, leaving the country in an apparently ludicrous shambles of restrictions. As many people have pointed out, NSW residents will be able to travel from Sydney to Paris, but not Brisbane, Perth, Tasmania, the Northern Territory or even Canberra.

The last vestiges of the 'national plan' — if there were any after Morrison's move on international borders — have thus been smashed; that is, the stated idea that no-one would open up until everyone had reached 80 per cent, regardless of individual states' vaccination figures.


The premier of Australia, the PM for NSW

There's so much to contemplate in this development: the humiliation – if the federal government was apt to feel such a thing – of a state government appearing to unilaterally end quarantine arrangements (the responsibility of the federal government) and overseas arrivals caps, for starters.

It looked for all the world like the state government was running the joint. Perrottet the premier of Australia. Just as Scott Morrison has been dubbed the prime minister for NSW.

Before Perrottet's announcement, we had heard nothing this week from the PM since Monday when he emerged out of The Lodge to once again try to share in the joy of (and credit for) the end of lockdown in NSW.

A few hours after the Premier's announcement on Friday, the PM emerged at Kirribilli House to say, rather pointedly that, actually, the new arrangements would only apply initially to returning Australian citizens, not the repeatedly mentioned tourists and others suggested by the NSW Premier and his ministers.

The granting of visas, and the question of who actually comes into the country, does seem to be at least something the government still controls.

"The premier understands that is a decision for the Commonwealth government not for the State Government and when we believe that is a decision to make, we will make it in that time", he said, with what seemed a little like gritted teeth.