POST 27: REFORM PARTY WA URGES THE COMMONWEALTH AND WEST AUSTRALIA STATE GOVERNMENT TO CONSIDER CEASING ALL INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT ARRIVALS

Overview

It is now a matter of urgency that the Morrison Government seriously considers halting all international flights into Australia. The Coronavirus Table below displays the latest details from confirmed cases in Australia. Table 1 is adapted from the Federal Government’s coronavirus health alert website updated at 15 March 2020.[1] It reveals that closing down of the air borders is crucial if Australia is to stem the increase of coronavirus infections. The major portion of individuals infected (61%) arrived in Australia from overseas flights.

Coronavirus infections in Australia and WA updated 15/03/2020.

The Table demonstrates that 24 non-air arrivals where infected by people with known cases. In this instance the coronavirus may have been passed on through family or friends arriving from overseas? Of concern is that in 24 hours there has been an increase of 52 contagions moving up from 197 to 249. Another worrying factor is that the place of exposure for 64 reported cases are under investigation. This number has more than doubled in 24 hours from 30 to 64. To date there has been 3 deaths and 27 individuals have recovered. [2] Western Australia has undergone a spike on coronavirus cases in the past week shooting up from 4 cases at 8 March to 17 cases at 14 March. The three most recent persons infected all arrived from overseas.[3]

Table 1: Australian Coronavirus Health Alert at 15 March 2020.

[table id=39 /]

(Source: Australian Government Department of Health, 2020 [4])

Economic implications.

Population Research WA understands there could be a significant economic cost of closing down the air borders. It is an incredibly difficult decision for both Federal and WA State Government to make. For the Federal government the international education sector is the 4th highest ranked export at $37.5 billion (2018-19). Personal travel services come in 5th with an economic value of $22.45 billion.[5] This adds up to a significant 12.8% of total export dollars. Fortunately the majority of Australian exports are iron ore, coal, gas, minerals, agriculture products, meats and so on, are exported through international shipping.[6] Shipping ports experience much lower population interaction and therefore less chance of community transmission than international education and personal travel arrivals at airports and in public places.

The WA Government will likely bear a smaller economic impact than the Federal Government. The State’s merchandise exports made up 96.5% (or $182.2 billion of total exports in 2019).[7] Whereas service exports (mainly personal travel and international education) made up 3.5% (or $6.7 billion of total exports 2018-19).[8] If the Federal and State Government decided to close down international flights. The education and personal travel exports would be those most affected. There appears no major reason why the much larger commodities export markets should be restricted during the outbreak.

References.

[1] Australian Government Department of Health, ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health Alert’ (Australian Government Department of Health, 2020) <https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert> [accessed 15 March 2020].

[2] Australian Government Department of Health, ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health Alert’ (Australian Government Department of Health, 2020) <https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert> [accessed 14 March 2020].

[3] Hannah Barry Pilat Cameron Myles, Lauren, ‘WA Coronavirus LIVE: Three New Cases Confirmed in Travellers from Overseas’, WAtoday, 2020 <https://www.watoday.com.au/national/western-australia/wa-coronavirus-live-wildcats-play-in-front-of-empty-stadium-cancellations-keep-rolling-in-20200314-p54a1g.html> [accessed 14 March 2020].

[4] Australian Government Department of Health, ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health Alert’.

[5] Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, ‘Australia’s Trade in Goods and Services 2018-19 | DFAT’, 2020 <https://www.dfat.gov.au/trade/resources/trade-statistics/trade-in-goods-and-services/Pages/australias-trade-in-goods-and-services-2018-19.aspx> [accessed 7 March 2020].

[6] Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

[7] Government of West Australia, Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation, ‘Western Australia Economic Profile February 2020’, 2020 <https://www.jtsi.wa.gov.au/about-the-state/quality-of-life/economy> [accessed 5 March 2020].

[8] Government of West Australia, Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation.

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