Prime Minister Scott Morrison teams up with Singapore PM for next travel bubble

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison has revealed the next country set for a travel bubble with Australia – but it comes with one big catch.

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Liberal Senator Jim Molan says Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s speech in Perth ahead of the G7 summit was « just fantastic ». But the challenge for the government now is to…

Liberal Senator Jim Molan says Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s speech in Perth ahead of the G7 summit was « just fantastic ». but the challenge for the government now is to ensure the strength and resilience of Australia’s national security. "This country is much more than just an economy, it is a liberal democracy with values ​​and interests and we must never forget that and we are challenged," he told Sky News presenter Chris Smith. "The challenge for all of us in government now is to ensure that the logical consequences that follow from that speech, ie; is the nation self-reliant and resilient, is the Australian Defense Force deadly enough… and has mass. "All the government has to do, or we as a nation have to do, is provide the money."

People take a break outside the One Raffles Place commercial building in Singapore’s Raffles Place financial business district on June 9, 2021. (Photo by Roslan Rahman / AFP)Source: AFP

Australia is poised for a travel bubble with Singapore after a meeting between Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his foreign counterpart.

Mr Morrison was received overnight by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Singapore as part of the sixth annual Australian-Singapore Leaders’ Meeting. He made the stopover en route to the G-7 summit and is the first foreign leader to step onto the Singapore coast since the onset of Covid-19.

It was the couple’s first in-person meeting, with Mr Lee saying he was « very happy » that Mr Morrison was able to quit.

Both have admitted it may take « some time » to reach the travel bubble milestone, but Mr Morrison has made it clear he wants the Southeast Asian nation to be next on the list.

Both prime ministers « recognized the importance of open borders for the recovery after the pandemic, » said a joint statement by the prime minister’s cabinet.

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison.  Photo: Matt Jelonek

Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: Matt JelonekSource: Getty Images

Australia and Singapore are « committed » to resume cross-border travel in two directions and Mr Morrison said there was « nothing standing in our way » to set up systems for such a bubble similar to New Zealand.

Mr Morrison discussed « infrastructure » to enable Australia « to open up…when we are both able to do so » and « when the public health situation in both countries allows ».

Mr. Lee gave some pointers as to what to expect; mutual recognition of health and vaccination certificates, most likely digital.

They welcomed ongoing discussions between border, health, transportation and other officials to establish detailed operational requirements for COVID-19 safe travel, including discussions on health and vaccination certificates, the statement said.

They also discussed cooperation to welcome the return of Singaporean students to Australia to continue their studies.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.Source:Supplied

Singapore has seen highs and lows in Covid rates since the outbreak of the pandemic and will begin slowly easing a month-long partial lockdown starting next week after curbs manage to contain an outbreak.

Mr Lee said Australia and Singapore have « similar approaches » to fighting the virus and the pair have « supported each other strongly », especially during the early days of the pandemic.

Mr Lee focused on the need for vaccinations and neither leader set a specific date.

New restrictions were introduced in mid-May, including a limit on the size of social gatherings at two, the closure of schools and a ban on eating in restaurants.

With the number of cases falling steadily, maximum gathering sizes will be increased to five from Monday and larger groups will be allowed at events such as live performances.

If the situation remains under control, more restrictions will be lifted from June 21 – including a resumption of dining in restaurants, while people without masks will be allowed to exercise in gyms.

International border closures are expected to cost the country at least $17 billion as a result of the failed vaccine rollout — but the damage bill could be terrifyingly higher.

People relax in the park next to the Raffles Place financial district in Singapore on Tuesday.  Photo: Roslan Rahman

People relax in the park next to the Raffles Place financial district in Singapore on Tuesday. Photo: Roslan RahmanSource: AFP

According to new models from the McKell Institute, Australia’s isolation from the rest of the world costs the economy as much as $203 million a day.

In April, after announcing Australia’s first travel bubble with New Zealand, Mr Morrison said Australia was « not in a position to move forward » when asked which country would be next.

In March, reports emerged that the governments of Australia and Singapore were in talks to negotiate a travel bubble that could have kicked in at the earliest in July.

Morrison said at the time that the government had considered Singapore and Japan, among others, to be separate bubbles, but had ruled out such prospects.

« I cannot confirm what they are at the moment, we are not in a position to outline where the next will be, » the prime minister said.

— with AFP

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