Grumpy is the mood that most of Australia is in at the moment.
Grumpy about the ongoing challenges with the COVID-19 virus. Grumpy about the uncertainty in going out with friends and family. Grumpy about the ongoing necessity to work from home. Grumpy about struggling to make ends meet as business owners, with no Jobkeeper or Jobsaver to depend upon. Grumpy about stalled family reunion visits. Grumpy at having to stick a swab up your nostril to check for the virus. (Even grumpier to have to do this for school-going children at least twice a week.)
Yes, this grouchiness could translate into a vote of no confidence against the incumbent Coalition government at the next election, due before May this year.
The opening up of international borders to all vaccinated travellers seems to be a sign of a crawl back to ‘regular’ life. This may or may not impact you immediately, but as tourist cash begins to flow through to other sectors of the economy, the boost it will provide will be very welcome. The intangible effect of confidence in the system that will then ensue is what the government is hoping for.
At this juncture, a stronger push is also needed to bring more international students back. This will add further to the kickstart of the economy that tourists will provide, as well as help battle labour shortages of the past 18-24 months. In NSW alone, it is stated that international students were adding over $30 million a day to the local economy before the pandemic struck.
Nations and organisations that can create opportunities for themselves in these tough times of COVID-caused disruption will boom in the post-pandemic world. Australia has been haemorrhaging students to countries such as the UK, Canada, and Singapore. It now needs to add incentives such as subsidised travel, housing, and pathways to migration, to hasten the return of students onshore. In stark contrast to April 2020, when Prime Minister Scott Morrison told visitors and international students that it was ‘time to go home’, luring them back now will be an interesting challenge.
India could well play a pivotal role in a post-Covid Australia. With a young population that continues to grow, and with internal education options struggling to keep up with demand, Australia is high in the eyes of India’s youth – either for further education or to move here as economic migrants. At the same time, there is pent-up demand for international travel in the aspirational and affluent sections of Indian society, and Australia is a favoured destination for its natural and cultural attractions.
As Fortress Australia opens up to travel and higher education and these tides of grouchiness hopefully wash away, expect India and Indians to play a strong role in helping revive the economy.