Three states in plan to ‘break away’
Business leaders have suggested an agreement between the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia which could see those states "breaking away" from the rest of the country and opening up borders.
Ian Kew, the head of the Darwin Major Business Group, said the three states now have dwindling numbers of active coronavirus cases, and local communities could benefit from working together, according to NT News.
He said freeing up border restrictions for residents in the three states could provide benefits to business, particularly in the tourism sector. But the Northern Territory's chief minister Michael Gunner has vowed not to reopen the Territory until all other Australian borders have reopened.
"The borders will be the absolute last thing to go," he said previously.
But Mr Kew was critical of the decision to keep the Northern Territory closed, saying it was frustrating business and industry which hadn't been consulted.
He said the three states could be opened "sooner rather than later" if the "right protocols" were introduced.
"Rather than being the last, we could be one of the first jurisdictions to open up, but that's an example of the thinking that is going on inside of the NT government without consulting business and industry that do have solutions to some of those things … and that is concerning," Mr Kew said.
Mr Gunner said he is not in the business of making "easy decisions".
"We are not opening our borders yet. The answer is no. I'm sorry, but it's too early. It's too risky," he said.
"We are the safest place in Australia because of our secure borders.
"And by being the safest place in Australia, our businesses can be the first to re-open, and Territorians can be the first to get back to work."
The Territory has recorded only 30 cases of coronavirus since the outbreak began and has thankfully recorded no coronavirus-related deaths.
The Darwin Major Business Group is made up of 15 major businesses which account for about 15 per cent of the city's GDP.
Originally published as Three states in plan to 'break away'