CANBERRA, AAP – The federal government hopes cruise ships can return to Australia’s east coast over coming months, something the industry says can’t happen soon enough.

Victoria, NSW and Queensland have agreed to work on plans to restart the industry once Commonwealth COVID-19 biosecurity controls are scrapped.

The federal government expects this to happen over coming months.

But states and territories will have the final say about when cruise ships will be allowed to operate in their jurisdictions.

Carnival Australia and P&O Cruises Australia labelled Thursday’s national cabinet decision a breakthrough.

“For two years, all of these groups, including our own employees, have faced uncertainty as to when cruising and its contribution to Australia’s national, state and regional economies might resume,” president Marguerite Fitzgerald said.

“They at last have reason for optimism and confidence that cruising will return and we will certainly support the cruise industry in working closely with government authorities, both federal and state, to achieve this outcome.”