Dutton attacks ‘childish’ Palaszczuk over quick border closures

written by Adam Thorn | August 14, 2020
Brisbane runway first flight water cannon (BNE)
Brisbane’s new runway opened on 11 July with a water cannon salute to the first flight by a Virgin 737-8FE (BNE)

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has suggested Queensland’s rapid closing of its borders to NSW and ACT was driven by politics not medical advice.

He added it was “childish” that Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk made the decision to introduce new travel restrictions rapidly without first informing her NSW counterpart Gladys Berejiklian.

The comments came as Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the Prime Minister would raise the issue of state border closures more generally with the national cabinet. He cited the case of a three-year-old girl with cancer from Victoria who has been banned from travelling to SA for treatment.

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In early August, Queensland shifted to effectively shut its border with NSW and the ACT, despite the latter having no active COVID-19 cases. It came a week after the state shut off to Greater Sydney.

At the time, Premier Berejiklian claimed she had no forewarning of the move, which led to many racing over the border at short notice to avoid restrictions.

Talking to the Today program on Friday, Minister Dutton said “When you get a Premier like Annastacia Palaszczuk making announcements about border closures when Gladys Berejiklian is doing a press conference and she is caught out, the question is asked of her and she knows nothing about it, she hadn’t been contacted by Queensland you would imagine she would be a bit miffed.

“I think it is childish. There is a growing mood here in Queensland at the moment of people who say, ‘If the doctors are saying close the borders or put in place this regime, fair enough,’ but there is a lot of politics being played in Queensland at the moment.”

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That same morning, Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud raised the example of a young girl with cancer from Victoria whose treatment has been affected by border closures.

“In far western Victoria there’s a three-and-a-half-year-old girl who’s got cancer. She’s actually wearing a colostomy bag and has lost part of her spine and was getting chemotherapy in Adelaide,” Minister Littleproud told Radio National.

“Now because of the closure, she’s unable to get chemo in Adelaide and has now been pushed away. Her family are going to have to take her hundreds upon hundreds of kilometres away to get treatment.

“This isn’t just about pressures we’re going to have on our food supply and animal welfare, this is a real human toll. We’re just asking our premiers to inject themselves and lead on compassionate human grounds as well.”

Minister Littleproud added that the Prime Minister would escalate this because of the gravity of the situation.

“He’s going to inject himself and ask the premiers in each state to inject themselves together and understand each other’s borders,” he said.

However, earlier this week, Australian Aviation reported how Prime Minister Scott Morrison significantly softened his criticism of state border closures.

On Monday, the PM told reporters it was “for others to judge” whether premiers were doing the right thing but that they had to “explain the decisions”.

The comments marked a major shift from his stance in May, when he said there was “no doubt” closures hurt the economy and should be removed “as soon as possible”. The words reflect fears of a second wave of coronavirus across the country, as well as the ongoing situation in Victoria.

PM Morrison said, “If there are issues to be sorted out between states and territories when it comes to borders, well, they need to sort them out. And if they need our assistance to do that, I assure you they will ask them for us.

“It’s for others to judge whether they’re doing that sufficiently or not. I’m not the arbiter of that.”

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15 Comments

  • Nicholas

    says:

    I think that the pollies have had a sniff of the Cool Aid and quite frankly are now addicted.

    Very foolish behavior by the Queensland Premier re her communication or lack of it with NSW. Unnecessary and short sighted also.

    Think the strident message from her and the CMO is wearing very thin now, just when, based on re re emergence of Covid in Europe we need leaders we trust.

  • Charles James

    says:

    And of course Dutton isn’t playing politics himself. I’m sure his comments would be quite different if the state in question was a coalition state.

  • Russell M

    says:

    I certainly hope an article like this is a one off (ie mention of politics and not aviation), and we can continue to read stories about aircraft etc.
    Whilst restrictions on travel etc are very topical news at the moment, I’d very much prefer the magazine does not become a political mouthpiece or continue mentioning MPs and their churlish comments etc into the future.
    One subscriber (since I visited the garage at the house in Canberra to sign up in about 1991 or so) on tenderhooks at the moment.

    • Adam Thorn

      says:

      Hi Russell,

      Border closures, and the speed at which they happen, are a huge issue for the industry at the moment. Domestically, there was a quiet confidence that there would be a relatively quick bounceback from covid around now, but those hopes are now gone. Whatever the health/political arguments for or against, there is no doubt quick closures, with little notice, have a kind of ‘chilling effect’ which knock people’s confidence to book flights more generally.

      Thanks for your comment,

      Adam

  • Jeb

    says:

    This is what happens when the county has six states & two territories’, each ruled separately. They don’t bother talking to each other. Too many ‘bruised egos’.
    This is an unprecedented situation, & therefore a Federal say for the whole is required, not States bickering about border closures.
    Leaders’ of each need to ‘grow up’, & think of the complete country.

  • Peter Ritty

    says:

    Glad of change even Link not the best choice. Wish they would resume sevices to MRZ. How about a one way circular BNE/MRZ/TMW/BNE. Or v.v. Would also have a quick way to serve MRZ/TMW.

  • John Bowers

    says:

    Why ever would Palaszczuk advise Gladys from Sydney? After trying to make it easier for Tweed/Coolangatta residents by putting a control at the Tweed River Gladys blew a raspberry. Does Gladys even know the border bisects the OOL terminal? The area is completely integrated.
    As for Dutton making a silly election time political comment how about he focuses on the plight of the little Sri Lankan family being destroyed on Christmas Island. Vengeance has no place in good governance.

  • over 80

    says:

    Keep up the good work Annastacia, It was muppets like Dutton who called for open borders and the present disaster in Victoria is one result, keeping me alive is not politics, Duttons comments are, perhaps he should wait until we are closer to election day before he plays politics

  • Paul

    says:

    Well these border closures put deeper holes in airline revenues.

  • Andy

    says:

    Palaszczuk is planning to use this as an election winner, oh look how we’ve kept you all safe (despite destroying lives, businesses and employment). You must now vote for us. I am stuck in Sydney indefinitely until she re-opens the border so I can get home to my family. Thanks for nothing Palaszczuk!

  • Steven

    says:

    LOL!! NSW has an outbreak! QLD shuts the border to NSW! Makes PERFECT sense. Now maybe Palaszczuk could’ve told the NSW Premier, that’s fair enough I suppose. Unfortunately the LNP love calling out the Labour Premiers like Palaszczuk, Dan Andrews, and Marc McGowan over their border closures but not one mention of Steven Marshall (SA) and Peter Gutwein (TAS), both LNP minister who have CLOSED their BORDERS! Guess what, those LNP Premiers are doing precisely the right thing. COVID-19 might not affect everyone the same, but we have to stop the transmission to ensure that the people who will be greatly affected by it don’t end up on a ventilator. Closing the borders is the easiest way to control the spread.

  • Patrickk

    says:

    Indeed Peter Dutton ought to talk about arbitrary border laws. Infected people came from Victoria to Qld avoiding making accurate declarations. What else should the premier do wait till the numbers are a few hundred a day. Auckland went into lockdown with four. Absolutely nothing wrong with going hard and early. It’s what works. Methinks it is Peter D is playing politics on this one.

  • Kim Knight

    says:

    I don’t understand what the PM and state leaders are going to “inject themselves” with.

  • Edward

    says:

    To John Bowers above……

    TheNSW/Qld border actually bisects the runway, not the terminal, at OOL……….

  • Karl L

    says:

    Palaszczuk should have closed the borders as soon as the decision was made, not give time for NSW etc people to queue at the border for some days to enter QLD hence increasing risk of virus spread. I find it amazing the states who complained about previous QLD border closures, are the ones coincidently who currrenly have high Covid rates. One simply needs to observe overseas infection rates, why do they think Australia is imune from the disease, all Australian borders need to be tight, state and international, until there is good control of the virus. Is busines and sports so important that deaths and sicknesses are ignored?

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