Travel boss calls Victorian lockdown `sheer lunacy’


Travel agency group Flight Centre co-founder and chief executive Graham Turner has slammed the Melbourne five-day lockdown, describing it as "sheer lunacy".

Mr Turner said the Brisbane and Perth COVID-19 lockdowns showed that the Victorian Government's action was an "incredible over-reaction" and instead they should have had faith in their contact tracing regime.

"I think its sheer lunacy. They saw what happened in the Brisbane lockdown and Perth lockdown. They had no cases," he said.

Several states reinstated border closures yesterday. The Queensland border will be shut to residents of greater Melbourne for at least the next two weeks while Western Australia and South Australia issued border restrictions.

While issued an alert for travellers who were at Melbourne Airport over a number of days last week it has not opted for a border closure.

"NSW has shown generally they are by far the best risk manager at this. It's an incredible over-reaction.

Flight Centre CEO Graham Turner. Picture: Dan Peled
Flight Centre CEO Graham Turner. Picture: Dan Peled

"We know this is probably the UK variant and is more transmissible but sooner rather than later we will have to live with this. It's always been about suppression not about elimination."

Mr Turner said in retrospect the Federal Government should have started the vaccination rollout earlier.

"It's clearly the only thing that will get back to normality. I think we will see that in Israel and the UK in the four to six weeks," he said.

Mr Turner said state border closures "defied logic".

"In the travel and tourism sector huge numbers of jobs will be lost and when JobKeeper finishes it will make it so much harder," he said.

"Keep the borders open. If they can't do anything else keep the borders open for the economy and ensuring people have jobs should be a high priority."

Mr Turner's comments come as other business leaders condemned the continued mishandling of hotel quarantine around the country.

Wesfarmers chief executive Rob Scott, one of the nation's most powerful business leaders, is calling on the federal government to take on a more hands-on approach to hotel quarantines operating across Australia.

Originally published as Travel boss calls Victorian lockdown `sheer lunacy'