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‘We won’t be lectured’: Interstate travel row heats up

written by Sandy Milne | May 21, 2020

A Qantas Boeing 737 800 departs from Sydney Airport (aviatormedia.com.au)

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.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, pictured right (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

“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.”

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Comments (20)

  • CJ


    So fed govt decides on international borders, so could qld have flights to NZ open before flights to NSW ?

    • iDecimus


      How did you deduce that factoid from the article?

  • Jennifer


    Is her plan to never have any more cases of a soon-to-be ubiquitous viral infection in the state of QLD?

    How will that be achieved? By closing the state forever? June, July, Sept, the end of the year… when will it be “safe” to “allow” people back in?

    They act like it’s a game: “the worst performing state…”. QLD may grab that gold when the economy tanks thanks to restricted travel.

    • Kurt


      Excellent post! Someone finally mentioning the economy!!

  • George Hart


    Yes NSW may have the largest number of deaths, however, we must consider
    1. The cruise ships and retirement villages were the largest contibuting factors
    2. Sydney busiest airport for international travels
    3. The most populated state
    4. Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle have the largest population in any 100-150 km radius
    These factors are worth considering

  • Dennis Martin


    It may be all well and good for the South East Corner of Qld to keep the borders closed, ease the restriction to 250km for Brisbane,Gold Coast and the Sunshine coast. They are all within 250km so people can still visit with some ease. But cities like Cairns,Townsville, Mackay have nothing within 250km. We need tourism up in these regions.
    Something needs to be done and quickly to save companies in cities like Cairns from going belly up as they will very soon.
    Our ministry and health officers have their jobs, but many in the tourism industry will have nothing within the next few weeks.

  • Rex Davis


    I agree with the Qld state Government, our border must be kept shut until there are no more cases of Covid. I am sad for the tourist industry, I know it sucks! but if you open the border too soon and you get a new outbreak of infected people entering the state then the next shutdown will be worse than what we have now.

    • Mike


      No cases is simply not a realistic outcome…given the fact that people can not even know they have the virus. Best you can do is go for minimal cases and have good tracing and an efficient hospital system ready to deal with small outbreaks…which exists now. I agreed with govt stance previously…but that time has passed.

    • Craigy


      If that is your attitude then you will not open your borders until their is a vaccine or never if a vaccine is not found. Good luck with that Rex

  • Nicholas


    I live in Cairns. Our tourism season is very focussed on the southern states winter, our wet season, the rest of Australia’s summer is pretty quiet. The last wet season, due to the bush fires and economic conditions was even quieter than normal. If the state is locked down till September, it will then see us move pretty quickly into the next wet season.

    The sum outcome will mean we would have gone through the equivalent or, worse actually, of three consecutive wet seasons.

    I don’t want to sound dramatic but you’ll see jobs, not just lost but gone, businesses folding, houses lost and I also believe the incident of suicide will also further increase.

    People are at breaking point now.

    This can’t go on. Nothing is worth this pain.

    • john


      Nothing is worth this pain?? my life as a 82 year old, cairns resident since 1985 is! Cairns used to be a paradise, now with a tourist shut down is is approaching the quality of life we used to enjoy.

    • iDecimus


      We feel for you folk up north. The southern pollies in Brisbane don’t understand how business runs.

  • Michael


    If ever there was an argument to amend the constitution and remove the middle layer of government (local / state / federal) this is it. If states have power to place non-conforming local government into administration, does the federal government have a similar legislation to enact against a rogue state? The stupidity of this is that it will never be eradicated.many countries can not afford vaccines. And then there is the ‘no to immunisation’ clowns. Somewhere in a dark corner of the world someone will have it. They will fly in to BNE and the whole cycle will start over.

    • MikeofPerth


      I actually think this is an argument to keep state governments in place, not abolish them. We don’t want those in the SE corner of the mainland making decisions that benefit themselves at everyone else’s expense.

      By having control over our own jurisdiction we not only have been able to protect our states but our regions, which include some of the most vulnerable members of our community. If NSW and VIC had put similar state and regional border closures in place early on maybe the nation would be in a better situation right now.

  • Mike


    Queenslanders need to get off there sun tanned rear ends and do something about their state “leader” who has no reason to continue to block freedom of movement. This could be a constitutional issue if the solicitors would jump on the case.

  • Salesh Prasad


    Is QLD up for an state election soon?

  • Peter Little


    Wait until the next COAG meeting when all the states put their arguments forward for a share of the federal funds. There won’t be surplus funds available to supplement state debt exasperated by Bad management now. States that are regressive in their attitude to getting businesses back and into profitability are not giving any consideration to the possibility of a Pending depression which will be far more devastating than the current situation. Get things moving now before it is to late so as to help at least keep some businesses in an operational state. If we think Things are tuff now, it has got nothing on a depression.

  • Darren


    Why haven’t the borders between the well performing states opened up?
    NSW still has a bit to go but all the Western/Central states below 50 active cases should be allowed to travel interstate.
    Why not open travel between WA, SA, NT, TAS, QLD?

  • Growler


    As always our biggest problem is that this has just become politicians big egos getting in the way of reasoned discussion.

    Listen to some of the comments. “We’re not going to be lectured to…” and “they need to get their act together.” Oh my state is doing better than your state.

    Jesus… The point is this needs to be discussed and debated. No one person has all of the answers. These folk are petty people addicted to their own power trip.

    I’m not going to comment on whether they should open or not… But they should be discussing a reasonable way forward. Not getting locked into ideological positions.

  • Bob


    The restrictions were not bought in to stop the virus, they were bought in so that when it spreads the hospitals can cope. Maybe she thinks QLD hospitals cannot cope with any outbreak.

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