Peter Dutton has pushed back against calls to shut Australia’s international border as coronavirus outbreaks sweep three states.
The defence minister has built his entire political career on a hardline border stance, but argued pausing all international arrivals would be harmful to the nation.
Mr Dutton warned a blanket ban would hurt Australians with families overseas and harm the economy.
“We’re not a two-bit island nation in the middle of nowhere that doesn’t trade with anyone,” he told Sydney radio 2GB on Thursday.
“We’ve got business to conduct or people don’t get employed.”
Mr Dutton also raised examples of compassionate grounds for international travel.
“People want to go and see their grandkids, they want to see a dying relative, and we’ve got to provide a balance,” he said.
“The prime minister has tried to strike that with the premiers.
“People don’t want us bickering, they want these problems sorted, they want to get back to their lives as they knew it a few years ago.”
More than 14 million people are in lockdown across NSW, Victoria and South Australia.
The international travel cap has already been halved to help the states bring case numbers under control.
Mr Dutton has ruled out reducing it further.
He said coronavirus outbreaks were not caused by the number of people in hotel quarantine, but rather human error among those running the system.