Many in the travel industry were left ashen-faced by a Federal Government decision to exclude the states from a review of Australia’s response to the pandemic – particularly when so many premiers appeared to go their own way and implement long-standing border closures and lockdowns.
These decisions, which some argue were made for political reasons just as much as for the health of Aussies, had far-reaching impacts on the travel sector, with trip planning becoming near-impossible in a climate of snap border closures and a fear of being left stranded by government red tape.
Australian Travel Industry Association (ATIA) CEO Dean Long was one of those senior industry figures left feeling short-changed by any review into COVID that failed to examine domestic border closures and lockdowns.
This week he is taking the fight to change the decision directly to the PM’s Office, penning a letter pleading with the Federal Government to reconsider its position.
“ATIA has been advocating for a review of the COVID response that encompasses all government action by Federal and State Governments – it was therefore very disappointing to see the Federal Government not include state-based restrictions in its COVID review,” Long told travelBulletin.
“While there has been much speculation about the political reasoning, the Australian Human Rights Commission said it best.
The broader human cost of the pandemic – such as families being separated by border closures and lockdowns, Australians being unable to return home from overseas – was substantial.
“This is about how we as a community manage the next unprecedented emergency. I can think of no other industry that could speak directly to the impacts on people, businesses and the overall economy,” Long added.
A report into COVID policies is due to be published in September 2024.