by John Q on March 23, 2020

As part of the general lockdown in response to the pandemic, most of the Australian states* have just closed their borders (as has the US state of Hawaii I believe). For those antiglobalists who have been claiming that the pandemic justifies their opposition to “open borders”, this presents a problem. Unlike international borders, those within countries like Australia have truly been open, with the exception of a handful of quarantine restrictions. Once the pandemic passes, does the anti-migration lobby want to introduce internal passports, require everyone to justify their movements to the police and so on? That would seem to follow from the logic of many of their arguments, not just about the pandemic but about overpopulation, competition for jobs and so on.

As regards the pandemic, it has raised the point that on any given day, millions of people are (or were, until recently) crossing international boundaries. The proportion whe are doing so for the purpose of migrating from one country (legally or otherwise) to another is minuscule. For example, Australia (poulation 25 million) is a high migration country, with 162 000 migrants in 2019. In the same year, there were 42 million passenger arrivals. If we assume that half are returning Australians and that visitors stay an average of two weeks, that implies there are over a million non-migrant foreigners in the country at any given time, equivalent to five or six years worth of migration. Are the restrictionists calling for them to be excluded permanently?

A final observation is that our quasi-military Border Force, created to stop refugees arriving by boat, has done a pathetic job in dealing with cruise ships loaded with infected and potentially affected passengers. Thousands have been allowed to disembark and return home without even a temperature check, then frantically chased when tests on fellow-passengers came back positive.