NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has reiterated that she has no plans to close the border with Queensland, despite a recent coronavirus outbreak in the state.
“The rates of community transmission in Queensland are very low,” said Premier Berejiklian. “We should really be careful when we take those big decisions, because it does adversely impact communities.”
The NSW Premier has long advocated keeping borders open but has been involved in a months-long spat with her Queensland counterpart over the issue.
In early August, the northern state 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.
However, speaking to reporters on Monday morning, Premier Berejiklian insisted she would not retaliate now Queensland has experienced a slight uptick in cases, and emphasised the closure to Victoria was a unique incident.
“The rates of community transmission are very low up there,” she said. “Where we can, we should absolutely keep [the] border open. We know how much it impacts our border communities and it pains me to know that south of here on the Victoria-NSW border our communities are being disrupted by that border closure, but we had no option.
“In order to keep the virus out of NSW, we had to take that step. I certainly don’t feel that we need to do that on our northern border whatsoever.”
Australian Aviation has previously reported that Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has said she will not consider relaxing her tough border closures until there is no community transmission in shut off states.
“I think we’re going to continue to see restrictions in Victoria up until Christmas time,” Premier Palaszczuk said. “That’s very unfortunate for people living there but it’s a serious situation.”
She has told reporters she would “put the safety of Queenslanders first” and did not have “any intention” of relaxing restrictions while the virus is passing through the community.
“You only have to look at what’s happening around the world and we definitely don’t want to see that happening here,” she said.
NSW’s statement also comes shortly after Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce accused Premier Palaszczuk of closing her borders purely for political gain.
Joyce said Queensland’s closure to NSW, Victoria and the ACT would cause a lot of small companies “to go out of business”.
He added that states had no excuse not to open to areas with few coronavirus cases, and urged the government to create a national framework where states only closed after a certain number of cases were recorded.
“There are no rules around how borders are going to close and open,” he said. “Nobody has an issue with the international border has been closed. That’s protected Australia.
“Nobody’s had an issue with the borders to Victoria being closed, but it’s very clear that we don’t have clear guidelines for when the borders will open or when they will close.
“Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland, Tasmania – we’ve got closure there still with very low cases or no cases. And it’s been like that for a while and we don’t have any determination for when the borders will open.”