Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack says he won't commit to a timeframe in which to reopen the country's international borders.
The NSW Riverina MP said the Commonwealth government would open Australia's borders "only when it it is safe to do so" and that there was "still a long way to go" with many uncertainties ahead.
It comes after business owners in the electorate that relied on international travel before the coronavirus pandemic called for a more certain roadmap to reopening the country's borders.
In the federal budget, handed down last week, the government set a tentative date of mid-2022 to open up international travel in and out of Australia, though this could hinge on the success of the currently beleaguered vaccine rollout.
The budget announcement has reignited discussions over when the relatively COVID-free, so-called "Fortress Australia" should reopen its borders to the rest of the world.
IN OTHER NEWS:
The debate was sparked further by Virgin Australia chief executive Jane Hrdlicka, who told a Brisbane function on Monday that the country couldn't keep its borders shut indefinitely despite the risk posed by the virus.
Mr McCormack yesterday said the government would follow the medical advice of Department of Health secretary Brendan Murphy and chief medical officer Paul Kelly on international travel and the vaccine rollout.
He said the government would do "everything we can" to prevent a third wave of the virus and that Australia was "the envy of the world" because of its few coronavirus cases.
"It is why thousands of people are able to attend sporting events on the weekend, such as the NRL game between Canberra and Newcastle in Wagga recently, and why we can go to our favourite restaurant and live our lives as normally as we can," he said.
"We want to get migration and international travel happening again, but we will do so in a time and in a way that best protects Australians."
In September last year, Mr McCormack criticised state and territory leaders for not reopening their borders sooner after they were closed in response to the pandemic.
He said at the time that the internal border closures were restricting "life as we know it".
About 3.28 million Australians had been vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Tuesday, according to Commonwealth figures.