PM confirms international borders will reopen for visa holders 'next month'

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·News Reporter
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Prime Minister Scott Morrison says certain temporary visa holders will be allowed into the country as early as next month as Australia presses forward with its plan to reopen its international border.

Pressed on labour-shortage concerns of the hospitality industry, Mr Morrison told Sunrise host Natalie Barr NSW was just weeks away from welcoming overseas workers back.

"We've said on students in particular, and skilled migration, we'll see that happening in NSW next month in late November," he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says overseas workers are weeks away from returning to Australia. Source: Getty/ AAP
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says overseas workers are weeks away from returning to Australia. Source: Getty/ AAP

Mr Morrison offered less clarity for the tens of thousands of backpackers who supplement workforces in multiple industries including hospitality, agriculture and construction.

Those workers mainly rely on the working holiday visa to acquire employment in the country. 

"On international visitors, well we'll see how Australians coming back first goes there," Mr Morrison said.

It is unclear at this stage when working holiday visa applicants will be given the green light to return, a move which is part of Phase D of the National Plan. 

Returning Australians the main focus

Mr Morrison earlier this month pulled NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet into line after he expressed his desire to open the international border for any vaccinated person overseas from November 1.

Mr Morrison later clarified overseas Australians would be the primary focus once the international border reopens without quarantine requirements. Parents of citizens and permanent residents will be the only addition, he said.

Mr Morrison said on Thursday he expected Victoria to follow NSW's lead in opening its border up.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) this week has called for a significant expansion of the skilled migration program, allowing up to 200,000 overseas workers to fill the void of workers left during the pandemic.

“We need to improve the ­accessibility and responsiveness of our migration system, making it less complex and less ­expensive to boost the intake of skilled migrants, international students and working holiday makers," ACCI chief executive Andrew McKellar told The Australian.

Despite Mr Perrottet's eagerness to see arrivals return to pre-pandemic levels, Mr McKellar believes it will take at least 12 months for the same number of temporary workers to return. 

There has also been a wave of anger from temporary visa holders who are not part of plans to reopen the international border for those in Australia once the nation reaches 80 per cent of its population 16 and above.

Only fully vaccinated citizens and permanent residents will be allowed to exit and re-enter the country, with temporary visa holders still requiring an exemption. 

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