First, the plan calls for universal QR codes similar to those in operation in NSW. This would mean that when people are travelling they would know exactly what the system is across Australia.

Second, the plan envisages each state commits to a guarantee that there are no lockdowns without people being given 48 hours to return to their home state.

Joyce said Qantas would ensure there was enough capacity in place to bring people home before the border closed.

Third, the plan calls on the premiers to say it is “extremely unlikely that the borders will ever close again” once 6.8 million Australians are vaccinated, including all vulnerable people and hotel workers and their families.

Joyce said the current system was “ridiculous”, with Victoria having red, orange and green zones; Tasmania having high risk, medium risk and low risk classifications; Western Australia having high risk, medium risk, low risk and ultra-low risk categories, and Queensland having COVID-19 hotspots.

He stressed there was enormous pent up demand for travel in the economy given that 11 million people used to travel overseas each year and these travellers were now ready to travel at home.

Berejiklian said border closures were an “embarrassment”.

“I think we just need to accept now that at the end of three weeks … the high risk people have been vaccinated [and] it’s reduced our risk,” she said.

“It doesn’t mean people won’t get the virus or necessarily pass it on, but the risk is massively diminished. There is no reason why internal borders should even be an issue.

“I think we have to provide far more certainty for business and for individuals to get on with normal life.”

Berejiklian says the QR code system provided by Service NSW is actually pretty simple technology, which helps explain why it has worked so well and been adopted by about 80 per cent of the adult population.

“Australia’s doing very well in responding to COVID, but imagine the economic opportunities for us moving forward and the freedom of our citizens,” she said.

Post-COVID-19 success means “keeping people alive, keeping them out of hospital, but having our economy become one of the best on the planet”.

Applause for Berejiklian

Berejiklian’s presence at the summit was noteworthy for the spontaneous clapping and cheers she received when Joyce praised her as having done the best job during COVID-19 of any premier in Australia.

Solomon, who appeared by video from New York, was bullish about the prospects for the United States economy, but warned of a possible inflation breakout.

“I believe the chance of seeing more inflation in the economy is meaningfully increased by the monetary policy actions and the fiscal policy actions that we’re seeing around the world, combined with a sharp recovery we’re going to get coming out of COVID,” he said.

“So I do think we’re going to see some inflation. Now, the question is: how much and at what pace? How quickly? What are the impacts?

“That’s much harder to predict. But I would say in the distribution of outcomes there’s certainly a reasonable outcome where inflation accelerates more quickly than people are expecting, and that will obviously have an impact on markets and volatility.”

El-Erian warned that markets were conditioned for a paradigm that basically says central banks will provide ample and predictable liquidity whenever markets wobble.

“Maybe this liquidity will not be as ample and will not be as predictable – the first stage of that is a massive rotation (from growth to cyclical stocks),” he said.

“The Nasdaq entered into correction territory on the same day that the Dow reached an intraday record high.

“The second element we’re seeing is that there’s been excessive if not irresponsible risk-taking. The question that David Solomon raised about GameStop is really a broader question about have we enabled as a system too much risk-taking.“

Solomon said the GameStop phenomenon showed that “digitisation and technology are expanding access, and the expansion of that access breeds more participation”.

Regulatory structures threatened

Regulators have to look at the fact that the pace of digitisation is outstripping the pace of rule-making and regulatory structures.

During the conversation with Chanticleer, Solomon made supportive comments about digital currencies and the digitisation of money, but he was reserved in his comments about bitcoin.

“I think those trends are in place and they’re accelerating,” he said. “As I talk to central bankers around the world, they are thinking about how they want to participate in the digitisation of money over time.

“There is a reasonable discussion and debate going on about bitcoin as a store of value. There are a lot of people that believe it’s going to be a very good store of value. I think it’s unclear as to how that sorts out over time.

“At the moment, Goldman Sachs is not permitted to own bitcoin from a regulatory standpoint, Goldman Sachs is not permitted to act as a principal with bitcoin, although there are certain activities that we can do around bitcoin, including futures clearing.

“We are engaged in those activities to the service of our clients and we’re spending a lot of time watching this and trying to make sure we understand and are in the best position possible to serve our clients, who are interested in looking at bitcoin or potentially certain other cryptocurrencies as a store of value.”

Commonwealth Bank of Australia chief executive Matt Comyn was bullish about the recovery in the Australian economy which, he said, would be helped by about $160 billion in savings being spent by households over the next few years.

“I actually think we’re going into a very positive set of economic circumstances,” he said.

Comyn, who was named the Financial Review’s business person of the year for 2020 alongside Elizabeth Gaines from Fortescue Metals for their Team Australia approach to COVID-19, said he was conscious of the pressure on people reliant on bank deposits for their income.



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