Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk faces more accusations that her border closures are politically motivated after her state secretary sent an email to Labor supporters stating there were “60 days to keep Queensland’s borders safe”.
Julie-Ann Campbell’s message referenced the 31 October state election and added that rival Deb Frecklington “can’t be trusted with our borders, and can’t be trusted with Queensland’s recovery”.
The development comes shortly after Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce made a similar accusation and argued for an Australia-wide consensus on state borders. The issue will be debated on Friday at the next meeting of the national cabinet.
Premier Palaszczuk has continually insisted her decision to shut Queensland’s border to the ACT and NSW is based on the advice of chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young.
However, the email sent on Tuesday and first obtained by The Sydney Morning Herald will attract criticism for seemingly politicising the border issue.
“By putting Queenslanders first and closing the borders to COVID-19, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk made the necessary and difficult decisions needed to keep Queenslanders safe,” Campbell wrote. “We know Deb Frecklington wanted to open our borders – because she said so 64 times.”
The revelation also comes after Premier Palaszczuk and her NSW counterpart Gladys Berejiklian spoke on the phone over the issue of border communities being able to cross states to use medical services.
“I hope she will respond positively to that,” Premier Berejiklian said of the conversation. “My job is to make sure I protect the health and wellbeing of our citizens. That is not happening to the extent I would like it to, and that’s a concern.
“I worry when some towns are not getting doctors for weeks on end or at all because the Queensland government won’t acknowledge that when they return to Queensland they should not have to serve that quarantine [period] when they are providing vital health services.”
Earlier, Queensland CHO Dr Young stated Queensland would only open to NSW after the southern state recorded 28 days of no community transmission.
Earlier this week, Australian Aviation reported that 400 senior tourism executives have now signed an open letter arguing Australian states can keep borders open by introducing “screening protocols”.
The ‘Save Australian Tourism’ campaign said the move would soothe the “crippling uncertainty” preventing people booking holidays.
The open letter has already been signed by Olivia Wirth, the chief executive of Qantas Loyalty; Graham Turner, chief executive of Flight Centre Travel Group; and David Cox, chief executive, APT Travel Group.
The move comes after the head of Qantas’ pilots’ association echoed Joyce’s repeated calls for a national consensus on state border closures.
Mark Sedgwick, the executive director of the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA), also told the Australian Aviation podcast he thinks border closures can’t eradicate COVID-19 altogether.
“The more you shut borders, the more people become complacent and don’t socially distance, don’t wash hands, don’t stay home on their own, and when it gets into the community it runs away,” Sedgwick said. “We need a national approach.”
Joyce notably accused Premier Palaszczuk of closing her borders purely for political gain in August.