Prime Minister Scott Morrison has issued a plea to states and territories to work towards reopening their borders by Christmas.
The restrictions have caused tension with the federal government, which is concerned decisions to block inter-state travel have caused disruption and hurt the economy.
Mr Morrison said states and territories must work together to reopen their borders by the end of the year, warning Australia cannot resign itself to being a “dislocated nation under COVID-19”.
“There are borders that are in place now and that is understandable,” he said during question time in parliament.
“But what we have to work to do is let Australians know that by Christmas – they will be able to come together.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says states and territories must work together to reopen borders.
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen states and territories across Australia implement bans on cross-border travel in a bid to prevent spread of the virus.
The prime minister has continued to argue that no specific health advice has been issued from the government’s expert medical panel relating to inter-state travel between other states.
It’s understood states and territories will be urged to endorse a new definition of a coronavirus hotspots during Friday’s national cabinet meeting in a bid to pressure an easing of the restrictions.
Mr Morrison said he held discussions with premiers from Victoria and New South Wales on Monday night over reopening their borders as soon as it’s “safe” to do so.
The prime minister said he wants a staged lifting of restrictions similar to that which followed the nation’s first coronavirus wave earlier in the year.
The border closures, despite becoming a political flashpoint with the federal government, have remained overwhelmingly popular in their respective jurisdictions.
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham told reporters a “common approach” must be secured.
“We are seeing many, many jobs being lost across the country and they will continue to be lost in our travel and tourism sector and many lives disrupted especially in cross border communities,” Mr Birmingham said.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese has accused the prime minister of criticising the Queensland Labor government’s border closures, while going easy on Liberal-controlled Tasmania and South Australia.
“It’s not national and it is not a cabinet,” the Labor leader told 4BC radio.
“Scott Morrison chairs these meetings and the premiers tell each other what they’re going to do. Then he goes out and has a press conference and announces it.”
Mr Morrison said an easing of the border restrictions would help provide some relief to families from the “difficulties” experienced during 2020.
“We are committed to doing it with everyone in this country, every government in this country, who will come together behind that ambition,” he said.