More than 40,000 people have now signed Qantas’ petition urging states to open their borders ahead of a crucial national cabinet meeting on the topic.
Australian Aviation can reveal that on Thursday morning the website was receiving 4,000 signatures every hour. The boost in numbers came after publisher Nine donated adverts in its newspapers to support the initiative.
On Friday, premiers will again meet to discuss a time frame for reducing movement restrictions, after all bar WA tentatively agreed to try and open Australia by Christmas.
The petition, which the airline has urged all its employees to sign, argues curtailing movement across states should be “risk-assessed” against an agreed definition of a COVID-19 hotspot.
The campaign launched alongside Qantas sending targeted letters to MPs in states it said did not agree to a road map out of “hard border regimes” during the last national cabinet meeting.
One passage of the correspondence read, “Arbitrary border restrictions are having a profound economic and social cost to communities, businesses, supply chains and jobs in Queensland.
“I ask that you closely consider these implications for the welfare and economic wellbeing of your community and join the call for a rational, harmonised approach to border management guided by the best medical advice.”
The increase in numbers came after Thursday’s issue of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald featured a message from the airline asking readers to “Show you support for safely opening our domestic borders”.
Its page featured a weblink for readers to visit and the SMH ad also carried a note revealing the advertising space had been donated by Nine Publishing.
This week, SA relented and finally opened its border to the ACT, though has still yet to allow quarantine-free entry to those from NSW.
The most pressure, though, is being placed on Queensland, which continues to be closed to the two states.
The formal campaign came after Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce accused Queensland of closing its borders purely for political gain.
He said the restrictions will cause a lot of small companies in Queensland “to go out of business”, adding that states had no excuse not to open up to areas with few coronavirus cases.
“Surely these decisions should be based on the facts and the level of cases that we’re seeing around the various states?” said Joyce.