SA and Queensland relent and will open borders in July

written by Adam Thorn | June 12, 2020
Qantas A330-202 departs from Brisbane after sunset as QF597 to Perth (Michael Marston)

The return of nationwide interstate flights received another major boost on Friday when both SA and Queensland confirmed their borders will open in July.

The news that Queensland has set a 10 July date to open is particularly surprising given Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk earlier hinted her state would remain closed until September, triggering a tit-for-tat spat with NSW counterpart Gladys Berejiklian.

However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison admitted WA could be the last to reopen and said that Premier Mark McGowan is still “looking at the issue”.

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The announcements came after Australia’s national cabinet met to discuss the latest steps in the three-stage plan to lift all remaining coronavirus restrictions.

On 8 May, all state leaders seemingly agreed to open their borders by the end of July, but this was thrown into doubt by a number of rows and arguments afterwards.

On Friday, Queensland seemingly relented and announced it was targeting a 10 July open date, but that the decision would only be confirmed at the end of the month and subject to “conditions”, thought to include a review of medical advice.

The state also separately announced a new financial package to provide $5 million to 15 Queensland airports to secure new domestic flights.

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Tourism Minister Kate Jones said the money would help support 1,500-1,600 jobs per year over a three-year period, with each flight potentially creating up to 50 jobs.

South Australia similarly announced it would open its borders on 20 July, and would bring forward ‘stage 3’ eased restrictions from 3 July to 29 June.

The change will remove the need for those entering the state to undertake a two-week quarantine.

“This could only be possible because of the massive improvement right across the entire nation,” said Premier Steven Marshall.

Finally, Prime Minister Morrison downplayed WA’s reluctance to name a date so far, saying that he never claimed there would be 100 per cent agreement across the nation on the topic.

“The Premier in Western Australia will make the arguments that containing the borders of Western Australia has enabled them to move – they are effectively in step three now with the exception of that one item [borders],” he said.

In more welcome news, Prime Minister Morrison also hinted he could finally allow international students back into the country, but that only states with open borders would be able to participate in the pilot scheme.

Currently, only Australian citizens and permanent residents are allowed to enter the country, leaving many temporary visa holders unable to return.

Today’s statements appear to draw a line under a number of rows between states and the federal government over the issue.

When the national cabinet agreed on a three-step roadmap for reopening the country in May, interstate travel was tentatively pencilled in for a nationwide return in July.

However, this plan was thrown into doubt by repeated declarations from Premier Palaszczuk that her borders could remain closed until September.

Premier Berejiklian called the move “ridiculous” before Premier Palaszczuk responded that she would not be “lectured to” on the issue.

It culminated in the Prime Minister appearing on a number of breakfast shows last month and repeatedly declaring that border closures were never “the medical advice”, or agreed by the national cabinet.

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5 Comments

  • Cathy

    says:

    I’m a resident of Qld & I feel very uneasy about Qld opening it’s borders to interstate visitors in early July, given the very real prospect of Covid19 outbreaks after the mass crowds at the Black Lives Matter protests in Sydney & Melbourne.
    It would be playing “Russian Roulette” with Qld resident’s lives if the Qld border was opened to interstate visitors early July, when already, only a short time after these mass protests, there have been more cases of Covid19 infections.
    The Premier of Qld is being responsible & showing a Duty of Care to Qld resident’s & she is being pressured to open the Qld border before she feels it is safe to do so

    • Jennifer

      says:

      You do understand that more infections is because of more testing. Stay home if you are frightened. Let the rest of us get back to work. Our govt cannot continue to print money.

  • Paul

    says:

    Chief Purser Jones had a thought bubble $5m across 15 airports? Clearly the purse is reading from the election manual without understanding how airports work or that they are currently manned.

  • Red Cee

    says:

    Agree Cathy. It is too early to open state borders, and will continue to be too early until Victoria’s outbreaks are under control. Maybe states could open to others where there are next to no outbreaks, but definitely not Australia wide.

  • Bernie Flyer

    says:

    I agree with Cathy and Red Cee. Open the borders between states WA, SA, TAS and NT. NSW and Vic are out as far as I am concerned as NSW is bound to have a new outbreak and Vic is still not under control. QLD is still slightly questionable. The smaller population states and NT should be able to open to one another. After all the small population states have a great job in pretty well eliminating Covid. To lose it all now would be terrible.

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