Treasurer says border openings will ease worker shortage

January 5, 2022 BY

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Corangamite Liberal candidate Stephanie Asher and Aussie BBQ Cleaning owner Scott Dell on the Torquay foreshore. Photo: JAMES TAYLOR

FEDERAL Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says businesses on the Surf Coast will see a “natural progression” towards workers coming back with eased COVID-19 restrictions and the opening of international borders.

Backpackers and working holidaymakers spend about $3 billion across Australia each year, and their absence has hit hard over the course of the pandemic.

Although lockdown restrictions no longer apply in Victoria, including density limits, several local hospitality businesses are not operating at full capacity or in their usual hours because of a lack of staff.

Speaking during a visit to Torquay earlier this week with Victorian Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson and Corangamite Liberal candidate Stephanie Asher, Mr Frydenberg said opening Australia’s borders in a COVIDSafe way was a priority for his government.

“We’ve already made an announcement in terms of skilled workers, in terms of international students – that’s going to be welcome, that’s going to strengthen our economy.

“Now we did have a two-week pause, for Omicron, until we got some more information, and we lifted that pause, and that was based on the medical advice.

“So what we’re starting to see is the opening of international borders, what we’ve seen here locally is the easing of restrictions – Victoria coming out of lockdown, NSW coming out of lockdown – and state borders opening. So that would be a natural progression from where we are, as of course we learn to live with the virus.”

Mr Frydenberg’s visit was to promote his government’s JobKeeper policy, and Aussie BBQ Cleaning owner Scott Dell said his Torquay-based business was one of the beneficiaries.

“I’ve always had plenty of work up until the lockdown, when 80 per cent of our business shut down, and if it wasn’t for the JobKeeper program, my business probably would have struggled to continue,” Mr Dell said.

“Now things have opened up, our business is expanding and we’re looking at growing – we just started on the Gold Coast and we’re looking to expand into other parts of Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales, so things are looking good.”

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