Pass legislation to end state border closures, says Adelaide Airport CEO – Australian Aviation

The chief executive of Adelaide Airport has urged the federal government to pass legislation to prevent states from closing their borders in the event of another pandemic.

Brenton Cox used his keynote speech at the Australian Airports Association Conference to explain Australia was unique in its “fragmentation” and criticized “local politics of fear”.

Cox revealed the airport initiated its pandemic plan in late January 2020, but never considered states would lock themselves down.

“The last few years have led us to think that closing state borders is normal – it’s not normal.

“We all know that aviation has been hit harder than most other industries globally due to border closures and travel restrictions, but most people thought our Australian aviation experience was shared elsewhere – it wasn’t. We were unique in how fragmented we are.

“Even New Zealand, with its draconian policies, was far better off. New Zealand has no states. But it has also chosen not to cut off the North from the South Island, for example.

“Almost as many people flew between European countries as within Australia.

“Aviation has been smashed around the world, but no more than here. The fact that we are now operating at half the quality of service and capacity is something of a miracle.”

He added that accepting “incoherent, disaggregated decision making in the face of a foreseeable pandemic is the same as accepting that Australia should be a riskier and more costly place to do business”.

Cox pointed out how Australia introduced legislation to prevent state closures in the wake of the Spanish Flu, but this has effectively been superseded by the more modern Biosecurity Act, which focused on “impacts on plants and animals”.

“Our request is that the federal government repair the system now, as the federal government did in 1920 – to eliminate this sovereign risk.

“This will not only benefit aviation, but everyone affected by inconsistencies at state borders. Our customers, who otherwise bear the costs of the residual risk, benefit from this, especially in aviation.”

Cox’s comments come shortly after another high-profile industry figure, Flight Center CEO Graham Turner, argued that “ineffective lockdowns” were more to blame for Qantas’ woes than CEO Alan Joyce.

Turner added that Prime Minister and former Prime Minister Scott Morrison made “rash decisions” based on “little science” that ultimately led to “devastating results”.

Turner wrote in The Australian: “History will show, or has already shown, that closing borders and dictating widespread lockdowns have not only been ineffective in stopping the spread of COVID-19, but have also caused enormous societal damage and collateral damage .”

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