Prime Minister Scott Morrison appeared to enter the ongoing border row between Australia’s states and territories by warning that Sydneysiders might be able to fly to New Zealand before Queensland or WA.
Speaking to the National Press Club in Canberra on Tuesday, he also stated that the country would not open its borders to international travellers “anytime soon”.
The Prime Minister said, “I was speaking with Prime Minister [Jacinda] Ardern this morning, and we’ll continue to have our discussions about the trans-Tasman safe travel zone.
“It may well be that Sydneysiders can fly to Auckland before they can fly to Perth, or even the Gold Coast, for that matter.
“But I can assure you I won’t be holding back on expanding the size of our markets for our goods and our services to wait for some other borders to clear.”
This revelation comes after a public argument between NSW’s Premier Gladys Berejiklian and her Queensland counterpart Annastacia Palaszczuk, after the latter hinted her state’s borders may well remain closed through to September.
Then, on Tuesday, Palaszczuk hit back at separate comments made by Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham, in which he accused the Premier of “holding out” on reopening Queensland to interstate visitors
“These are really hard decisions everyone,” she said on Tuesday. “I have sleepless nights. I understand people are hurting. I understand people have lost their jobs.”
Premier Palazczuk pointed out that Minister Birmingham, a senator from South Australia, has not himself advocated for reopening his home state.
“Simon Birmingham lives in a state that has their borders shut,” she said. “So Simon Birmingham, go and talk to your own Premier in South Australia and get that sorted first, before you start commenting on other jurisdictions.”
Figures within the NSW and Queensland state governments have also been at odds over the location of Virgin Australia’s headquarters, too, should the airline received a combined bailout.
Last week, Queensland State Development Minister Cameron Dick – one of the architects of the “Project Maroon” proposal – called the idea of shifting the company’s operations to NSW “nonsense”.
Intrastate travel restrictions are set to lift in several states – including NSW and WA – from 1 June.