NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said she “begrudges” Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s decision to shut her borders to the state, in the latest barb in their pair’s bitter row.
Speaking on the Today program, Premier Berejiklian said, “I don’t know if it’s because we’re NSW and maybe we have a different world view of our nation, but with Victoria out of action you have to think about what is going to power our economy forward?”
The pair’s war of words began back in June when Premier Berejiklian slammed Premier Palaszczuk’s “ridiculous” plan to delay opening up Queensland until September – before her counterpart responded by stating she would not be “lectured to” on the issue.
“I do begrudge her because NSW has got very low community transmission,” Premier Berejiklian said on Wednesday. “NSW has shown that you can have open borders.
“And for NSW, I know how frustrating it is for all of our citizens who have relatives, or friends in other parts of Australia and not just on a human level but also economically.
“There are Queenslanders in our hotels who have got the virus. There are West Australians. We don’t mind that.
“But when the case numbers are so low … why would you close your borders? Why would you hurt your businesses and jobs in your own state?
“Normally NSW and Victoria subsidise the smaller states with GST and other things, so what is going to happen in six months or a year if our economies aren’t able to function in a reasonable rate?
“That does worry me because I worry about jobs and job security.”
The comments are a surprise because on Friday the national cabinet agreed on a plan for all states, bar WA, to open up to each other by Christmas.
State premiers also agreed upon a definition of what constitutes of a COVID-19 “hotspot”, which would be used to guide future closures.
For metropolitan areas, the definition would be a rolling three-day average of 10 locally acquired cases per day, compared with just three cases in rural areas.
At the time, Premier Berejiklian defiantly argued her state would therefore have no areas deemed a hotspot if the rules were enforced today.
“If you look at the specific definition which national cabinet is considering, at this point in time, there wouldn’t be anywhere in NSW as of today that would be defined as a formal hotspot,” Premier Berejiklian said.
“There shouldn’t be an excuse for any state to have a border that isn’t open with NSW.
“If the trends continue the way they are, I don’t think any state border should exist by Christmas – unless Victoria flares up again, which I hope it won’t.”
Last month, Australian Aviation reported comments by Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce accusing Queensland of closing borders purely for political gain.
He said the restrictions, which include shutting off NSW and the ACT, will cause a lot of small companies in Queensland “to go out of business”, adding that states had no excuse not to open up to areas with few coronavirus cases.
“Surely these decisions should be based on the facts and the level of cases that we’re seeing around the various states?” said Joyce.
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