Tradies, teachers and farmers should soon be able to skip across state borders irrespective of coronavirus restrictions.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has written to the premiers of NSW, South Australia, Victoria and Queensland regarding free movement for border communities.
The nation’s treasurers have also agreed tradies will soon be able to work in different states and territories under one licence, a decision applauded by the Business Council of Australia.
The prime minister wants to enable movement of the “essential economic workforce”, including agricultural workers.
There is also a heavy focus on issues the borders are posing for access to medical treatments.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said state boundaries meant very little to people in regional areas.
“A lot of those communities grew around those borders but rely on a lot from the other side,” he told the Herald Sun on Monday.
“That’s why you can create localised bubbles in regional areas; if health officials would sit down with these communities, look at the science and work through it.”
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he and NSW counterpart Gladys Berejiklian were very close to a deal on farmers in border towns.
Commonwealth, state and territory treasurers have agreed to allow individuals who hold an occupational licence in one Australian jurisdiction to work in another.
Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said it was a practical reform.
“This is a great step towards eliminating the barriers and bottlenecks holding back Australian workers, consumers and businesses at a time we need to pull out all stops to drive new, job creating investment,” Ms Westacott said.
The scheme should be operating on January 1 subject to the passage of legislation in each state and territory.
“The new framework will cut red tape, drive job creation and allow workers to move more freely around the country to where the work is,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.