NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has seemingly accused her Queensland counterpart of caring more about the result of the State of Origin game than opening borders, in the latest barb in their now six-month-long spat.
Premier Berejiklian said she sent a text to Annastacia Palaszczuk to congratulate her on winning the state election and to talk borders but didn’t receive a reply until days later after the result of the iconic rugby league game.
“She replied ‘Queenslander, great game’ or something to that effect,” Premier Berejiklian said today. “She didn’t mention borders or thanks for the congratulations. I didn’t know whether to be shocked or bemused frankly.”
The pair’s rivalry goes back to the Autumn when Premier Palaszczuk said was reluctant to drop restrictions to travellers coming from NSW. Queensland finally opened up to NSW on 10 July but closed again to Sydney on 1 August and then to all of NSW and the ACT a week later. The state announced on Friday it was to open up to regional areas of NSW but those from Greater Sydney would remain banned, with another review not due for a month.
“I’m worried about jobs and people not seeing their families and she just rubbed in the fact that Queensland won the game … that’s fine,” said Premier Berejiklian.
“I don’t want to make light of the situation, because yes we all have fun in sport, but the reality is that people are suffering because the border is there and we’re doing everything we can.”
The rivalry between NSW and Queensland comes despite NSW declaring it was to become the first state to open up to Victoria on 23 November.
Earlier on Thursday, Australian Aviation reported that Qantas and Jetstar will increase the number of flights per week between Victoria and NSW from just 10 to 250 when the border opens.
The new services, across five routes, will return the business to 40 per cent pre-pandemic capacity and mean more employees can return to work.
Currently, the Qantas Group is only operating flights between Sydney and Melbourne but later this month that will include services to and from Ballina Byron Bay, Mildura, Newcastle and Bendigo.
Andrew David, chief executive of the group’s domestic and international operations, said the news was great for business and getting people back to work.
Pre-COVID, Melbourne-Sydney was the busiest air route in Australia and the second busiest in the world,” said David. “On a busy day, Qantas and Jetstar would operate more than 100 flights per day between New South Wales and Victoria. During the lockdown, our schedule reduced to as low as one flight a day.”