Trade Minister Dan Tehan says the federal government is negotiating with Singapore about a potential travel bubble with Australia, but is in “no rush to open the borders” to international travel.
Speaking in Melbourne on Saturday, Mr Tehan refused to provide a benchmark, such as a vaccination rate, that would see Australia open up a travel bubble with Singapore, saying it would be up to medical experts.
“It will largely depend on how these various variants play out,” he said.
“It has been made very clear we will only create a bubble with Singapore when it is safe to do so and in the meantime we are looking at what would be the processes that would allow that to be as safe as possible.”
His comments came after Prime Minister Scott Morrison told The Weekend Australian the government would spend the next six months monitoring the spread of new COVID-19 variants overseas, and the effectiveness of vaccines against those variants, before making a decision on reopening international borders.
Mr Morrison said identifying people who had been fully vaccinated was key to the creation of further travel bubbles – following Australia’s first travel bubble, with New Zealand – with Singapore and potentially Japan and South Korea to follow.
He also told The Australian that foreign students who had been fully vaccinated could be used to trial a new traffic light system for international arrivals.
Meanwhile, Mr Tehan announced on Saturday that Australia would take China to the World Trade Organisation over Beijing’s decision to slap taxes of up to 212 per cent on Australian wine.
Following months of consultations with the wine industry and with bilateral talks breaking down, Mr Tehan said it would be up to the World Trade Organisation to help end the deadlock.