A spat between state politicians in NSW and Queensland has escalated in recent days, with senior officials in disagreement as to when the states’ shared border should be reopened.
Speaking to ABC News Breakfast on Monday, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk hinted that Queensland could remain closed to interstate arrivals through to September.
“I would say that things would look more positive towards September — having said that, I do not want to rule anything out, I will give you that advice at the end of May, as quickly as possible,” she said.
Speaking on Thursday morning, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian criticised the Queensland government on this point, saying she did not think Premier Palaszczuk’s decision was “logical”.
On its part, the federal government has indicated a preference for reopening. Under a three-step plan outlined by the Morrison government, state border measures would be lifted as soon as July. Deputy chief medical officer Paul Kelly also stated Wednesday that there was “no medical reason” to keep borders shut.
Yet in response to Premier Berejiklian’s comments on Thursday, Premier Palaszczuk cited the high level of COVID-19 cases across NSW, saying her counterpart was not in a position to advise Queensland.
“We’re not going to be lectured to by a state that has the highest numbers in Australia,” she said.
Premier Palaszczuk was backed up by her chief health officer Jeannette Young, who said that there was “plenty of health advice” about limiting the number of cases entering a community.
“Here in Queensland, it is best for us that we continue to minimise movement across our domestic borders,” she said.
“This is not the time for tourists to travel into Queensland because one case can cause an enormous setback to our plan.”
Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey also weighed in on the debate Thursday, saying, “We won’t be lectured to by the worst-performing state in Australia.
“There were 33 times the number of active cases in NSW compared to Queensland. NSW needs to get its act together and get community transmission down, and we will all be better off throughout this nation, including in Queensland.”
Speaking to reporters in Perth, West Australian Premier Mark McGowan sided with Queensland, saying that the decision to reopen was down to individual state governments.
“We will make these decisions when the time is right,” he said.
“We had very low rates of infection here, they had higher rates in the eastern states, so we will keep the border up until we think it is the right time for the health of Western Australians.”