Inside Scott Morrison’s push to end ‘insane’ state border closures as stubborn premiers plunge the country into chaos, destroy farmers and put food supplies at risk – with PM set to lay down the gauntlet TODAY
- Scott Morrison will meet with premiers for national cabinet meeting on Friday
- The prime minister will encourage leaders to ease their hardline border closures
- Mr Morrison is also seeking a national definition of a coronavirus hotspot
Scott Morrison will push to end ‘insane’ border closures when he meets with state leaders on Friday, with billions of dollars in agriculture and Australia’s food supply on the line if farmers remain banned from crossing state lines.
The Federal Government wants a national definition of a ‘coronavirus hotspot’ to guide interstate travel rules, as well as an agriculture code that would allow farm workers to cross borders without facing 14 days in isolation.
Mr Morrison is expected to encourage Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to use ‘common sense’ and introduce ‘compassionate’ reforms when national cabinet meets on Friday, rather than urging her to completely reopen the border.
The cabinet will discuss a proposal from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee on the definition of a ‘hotspot’, which would be used as the framework for decisions on cross-border movements.
Scott Morrison will push to end state border closures at the National Cabinet meeting on Friday. Pictured: Motorists attempt to cross into Queensland before the state shut to NSW on August 8
The prime minister (pictured during Question Time on Thursday) will urge states and territories to ease border restrictions when the national cabinet meets again on Friday
Ms Palaszczuk deemed all of Victoria, NSW and ACT to be ‘hotspots’ and all travellers from those locations are required to spend 14 days in hotel quarantine at their own expense.
But the premier has been accused of border ‘double standards’ after allowing 400 AFL players and officials from coronavirus-riddled Victoria into the state under special quarantine arrangements.
Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud was scathing of border closures and warned food production would take a huge hit if an agreement can’t be struck on Friday.
‘The insanity of this is that with freight you’ve got truck drivers coming out of hotspots in Melbourne and being allowed to carry freight right across the country,’ he said in Canberra on Thursday.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has been accused of border ‘double standards’ after allowing an estimated 400 AFL players and officials from coronavirus-riddled Victoria into the state under special quarantine arrangements
Queensland deems all of Victoria, NSW and ACT to be coronavirus ‘hotspots’ and all travellers from those locations are required to spend 14 days in hotel quarantine at their own expense. Pictured: Motorists at the Coolangatta checkpoint before Queensland closed to NSW
‘Yet we can’t do that for a farmer or [agriculture] worker. That just doesn’t make sense.’
Victorian Farmers’ Federation president David Jochinke said there was an urgent need for free movement of the agricultural workforce.
‘It beggars belief that farmers who provide the food and fibre to feed the nation continue to be hamstrung by people who simply do not understand the economic implications,’ he said.
Modelling by the NSW Department of Primary Industries, seen by the The Daily Telegraph, revealed the nation’s agriculture industry will lose $6.83billion over the coming financial year due to the closures.
National Farmers Federation chief executive Tony Mahar urged premiers to introduce a ‘business-as-usual approach’ for the borders and to move away from ‘crisis mode’.
‘With no cases west of Sydney in NSW and Brisbane in Queensland, it simply does not make sense to curtail the movement of farmers and farm workers, for example between Moree to Goondiwindi,’ he said.
Ahead of Friday’s meeting, state government’s have been urged to back a national agriculture code to ensure border closures don’t diminish Australia’s food production
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured) said Queensland’s guideline for reopening its border is a ‘pretty tall order’
‘The stretch of land between Mildura in Victoria and Longreach in Queensland is COVID case free.’
Mr Mahar declared his message as a ‘mayday call’ to Australia’s leaders ahead of the national cabinet meeting.
The fruit and vegetable picking season has already commenced and the grain harvest will soon follow.
‘We are fast approaching the time where fruit and vegetables will rot on the vine, and grains will remain unharvested,’ he said.
‘This is not only a devastating blow for farmers and the bush but it will impact the price and availability of fresh food across Australia.
‘This is a mayday call to those who we call our leaders – work overtime between now and Friday to achieve a nationally-consistent code.
‘Anything less will demonstrate utter contempt for agriculture, regional communities and all Australians who depend on quality food and fibre.’
Protective services officers patrol along the St Kilda Beach foreshore in Melbourne on Thursday
State government’s have been urged to back the agriculture code to ensure border closures don’t affect Australia’s food supply.
‘We’re not asking to tear down borders, we’re just asking for common sense,’ the agriculture minister Mr Littleproud said.
The draft code covers workers, farm businesses and agricultural services, along with seasonal temporary migrant workers.
It aims to ensure consistency in cross-border movement rules for agriculture workers while also ensuring coronavirus safety.
Mr Littleproud also said he was ashamed as a Queenslander by the premier’s choice to welcome AFL players and officials but keep the hardline stance with everyone else.
‘When the premier of Queensland can allow 400 AFL executives to swan around a resort in the Gold Coast, but won’t allow teenage boarding school children to go home to see their parents into remote New South Wales is abhorrent,’ he said.
‘It’s wrong Australians don’t do that to other Australians.’
Premier Palaszczuk this week said border rules wouldn’t change for at least another month.
National Farmers Federation chief executive Tony Mahar urged premiers to introduce a ‘business-as-usual approach’ for the borders at Friday’s national cabinet. Mr Mahar declared his message as a ‘mayday call’ to Australia’s leaders
Pictured: Premier Daniel Andrews arrives at his daily press conference on Wednesday. Mr Morrison said Victoria is turning a corner after a deadly second wave of coronavirus infections
Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said on Thursday that NSW needed to pass 28 days without any COVID-19 community transmission before the border rules would be reassessed.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said that would be a ‘pretty tall order’.
‘I don’t know anywhere on the planet where a society could function productively during a pandemic and get an assurance you’re going to (get) zero cases of community transmission,’ she said.
‘If you have confidence in your health system, confidence contact tracing is something you can do within your state, there shouldn’t be a reason for you to keep your border closed given the low rates of community transmission currently in NSW.’
Pictured: Cleaners are seen walking through the street in Melbourne’s CBD on Thursday
The Federal Coalition, which is powerless to reopen the states, wants a national definition of a coronavirus hotspot to guide cross-border travel rules, as the pandemic continues
The national cabinet will also discuss a ‘road map’ out of the coronavirus pandemic on Friday.
Speaking during Question Time on Thursday, Mr Morrison said he hopes Australia will be ‘whole again by Christmas’.
‘It’s very important for businesses and their employees to commit to ensure their doors are open and Australians get back in jobs,’ he said.
‘Australia was not meant to be closed, Australia was meant to be open.
‘We need to come together and ensure that we are clear with Australians that we will seek to make Australia whole again by Christmas this year.
‘That Australians come together the way they always would at Christmas, so they can spend their important time with family.’
The prime minister said Australia has seen success in its attempt to suppress coronavirus.
‘We have first sought to suppress the virus and, in seven out of eight territories in this country, Australians have come together to be able to achieve that,’ Mr Morrison said.
‘In Victoria, they are turning the corner… and we welcome that.’
On Sunday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews will announce separate ‘roadmaps’ for how Melbourne will come out of Stage Four lockdown, and the way out of the Stage Three rules for regional Victoria.
But there is no confirmation yet that any restrictions will be eased on September 13.
There were 113 new cases on Thursday – the first time since Sunday that the daily tally has been above 100 – after 90 on Wednesday and 70 the day before.
Victoria also 15 more deaths, but nine of them had happened in aged care before the last 24 hours, with the fatalities taking the state toll to 591 and the national figure to 678.
Pictured: A general view of La Trobe Street in Melbourne during Stage Four lockdown on Thursday
Speaking during Question Time on Thursday, Mr Morrison said he hopes Australia will be ‘whole again by Christmas’
Coronavirus restrictions and border closures are ripping $55BILLION from Australia’s tourism industry – with thousands of businesses on the brink of collapse and a million jobs at risk
By Charlie Moore for Daily Mail Australia
Coronavirus lockdowns and strict border restrictions are expected to cost Australia’s tourism industry at least $54.6billion this financial year, new data has shown.
Modelling by Tourism Research Australia predicted Australia’s tourism industry will be worth $83.8billion in 2020-21, some $54.6billion less than in 2019.
The modelling assumed the industry will lose $31.4billion due to international border restrictions and that domestic tourism will decline by at least $23.2billion.
Queensland’s border closure is estimated to cost local businesses $17million a day in lost income.
In normal times, tourism directly and indirectly employs one million Australians, accounting for one in 12 jobs.
Coronavirus lockdowns and border restrictions are expected to cost Australia’s tourism industry at least $54.6billion this financial year. Pictured: The Sydney Opera House
Modelling by Tourism Research Australia predicted Australia’s tourism industry will be worth $83.8 billion in 2020-21, some $54.6billion less than in 2019. Pictured: The Gold Coast
The data, compiled in May and released by Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham today, assumed that domestic borders would begin to open from June 2020.
It predicted that if state borders were to remain closed for the December quarter, tourism stands lose a further $9.8billion in interstate travel.
Senator Birmingham released the figures ahead of Friday’s national cabinet meeting where Scott Morrison will urge premiers to open their borders.
He has ordered health experts to come up with a definition of a hotspot to guide states on managing their border restrictions.
It comes as Qantas boss Alan Joyce demands a science-based approach to state border closures.
‘At the moment there seems to be no fact-based criteria about which borders are opening and closing,’ he said at Wednesday’s CAPA Centre for Aviation industry summit.
The modelling assumed the industry will lose $31.4billion due to international border restrictions and that domestic tourism will decline by at least $23.2billion. Pictured: The Great Barrier Reef
The data predicted that if state borders were to remain closed for the December quarter, tourism stands lose a further $9.8 billion in interstate travel. Pictured: Uluru
‘I hope in national cabinet on Friday we start defining hotspots, which is then putting the science in play.
‘Then we have certainty and all those businesses have certainty when borders will open and when they will close.’
Virgin Australia chief executive Paul Scurrah agreed, saying: ‘I do support Alan Joyce on his urging for medical fact-based decision making around borders.
‘It doesn’t really make sense to have two basically COVID-free cities not being able to connect with each other.’
Mr Joyce said he feared hundreds of small businesses in tourism towns such as Cairns would be forced to close.
Qantas is operating 20 per cent of its flights before COVID-19 after predicting in June the figure would be 40 per cent.
Scott Morrison (pictured) on Friday said he feared state premiers were forgetting the federation and ‘retreating into provincialism’