Queensland to keep its borders SHUT to millions in New South Wales as Annastacia Palaszczuk refuses to open to Greater Sydney
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has decided to keep Greater Sydney residents out, forcing thousands of Sydney families to cancel holidays.
The Labor Premier, who faces an election on Saturday, previously said she hoped to ease the hard border, which was introduced in August to stem the spread of Covid-19, on November 1.
New South Wales recorded only one new case of community transmission on Friday, after reporting four cases on Thursday, all of which caught the virus from close contacts.
Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young has said the NSW border would not be opened until the state went 28 consecutive days without mystery cases.
Scott Morrison on Friday morning urged Ms Palaszczuk to open the border, saying: ‘We can’t stay stuck in neutral. We’ve got to gear up again.’
‘We’ve got to get going again and do it safely.’
He challenged Ms Palaszczuk to release the health advice she took before making the decision.
‘Make decisions on the basis of health advice and be transparent about it. It’s just very hard often to get a clear steer on what’s behind these decisions,’ he said.
‘We’ve looked at the Queensland systems and the Queensland systems are good,’ Mr Morrison said, referring to contact tracing.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian urged Queensland to open up and also criticised Western Australia and Tasmania for keeping borers closed.
‘The length those premiers have gone to is beyond the realm of logic,’ she said.
All states and territories except Western Australia have told the prime minister they want to remove borders by Christmas.
WA premier Mark McGowan, who faces an election in March and has gained popularity with his hard border closure, refused to take part in the plan.
But according to local media he will announce a date to relax the border with all state except NSW and Victoria.
Queensland’s stubborn premier appears poised to keep her borders closed to Sydneysiders ahead of Saturday’s state election
Motorists are stopped at a checkpoint at Coolangatta on the Queensland-New South Wales border when it was re-introduced in August
Ms Palaszczuk was on the campaign trail on the Gold Coast on Thursday ahead of the Saturday election
On Thursday night tourism owners accused Ms Palaszczuk of ‘playing politics’ with their livelihoods.
Village Roadshow Theme Parks chief operating officer Bikash Randhawa criticised Health Minister Steven Miles’ claims that Queensland’s hospitality sector fared well throughout lockdown.
‘Which world is this man living in?’ he asked on Twitter on Thursday. ‘We are all bleeding away.’
He said the only logical option was to reopen the border between Queensland and New South Wales.
‘Either this or we are dead,’ Mr Randhawa said.
Clark Kirby, the chief executive officer, warned the uncertainty imposed by the state government had put a freeze on job hiring.
Annastacia Palaszczuk previously indicated she hoped to ease the hard border, which was introduced to stem the spread of COVID-19, from 1 November
His organisation normally employs about 500 people over the busy summer season.
‘Our recruitment depends on the border opening – if it does not reopen, then hundreds of summer jobs on the Gold Coast will be lost,’ he said.
Similarly, Queensland Airports chief executive officer Chris Mills said a decision to keep Sydneysiders out would be devastating.
Flights from Sydney to the Gold Coast on Sunday are nearly at capacity, while the airport has reported ‘good bookings’ for the rest of the week.
Telling these passengers that their flight would not be going ahead at such short notice could cripple the industry, Mr Mills warned.
‘These are real people’s jobs we are talking about – anyone from the barista making your coffee, to the retail assistant and taxi driver. Many of these people could be back at work next month if the border opens,’ he said.
‘To turn them away at short notice would be a real blow to the Gold Coast’s recovery.’
Mr Mills estimated some 41,000 jobs on the Gold Coast and 3,000 businesses were relying on the borders to open as soon as possible.
Traditionally, Gold Coast theme parks employ about 500 seasonal workers over the busy summer season
Flights from Sydney to the Gold Coast (pictured) on Sunday are nearly at capacity, while the airport has reported ‘good bookings’ for the rest of the week
What are the border restrictions?
New South Wales: Exemption required if coming from VIC
Victoria: No restrictions
Queensland: Exemption required if coming from NSW and VIC. Due to open to NSW on 1 November
South Australia: Exemption required if coming from VIC
Tasmania: Will open to NSW on 2 November. Exemption required if coming from VIC
Western Australia: Exemption required from anywhere
ACT: Exemption required if coming from VIC
Northern Territory: Victorians must quarantine at their own expense
Australia: Only people who have been in New Zealand for 14 days can enter without hotel quarantine
‘We don’t understand why we have to wait until two days before the potential opening to find out what is happening.
‘Airlines need time to schedule flights, travellers need to book with confidence, and employers need to be able to roster staff accordingly.’
Ms Palaszczuk said she would continue to make decisions based on the health advice provided to her.
On Thursday, NSW recorded four new cases of coronavirus within the community, as well as an additional case in hotel quarantine.
But the state’s contact tracers have been successful in monitoring and containing the virus.
Passengers arrive at the departure zone at Sydney International Airport on September 29
NSW Premier Gladys Berejikian and Prime Minister Scott Morrison have both encouraged Ms Palaszczuk to reopen her border
Last week an EY study commissioned by the Business Council of Australia found the nation lost $78 billion from air travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The domestic aviation shutdown over the past seven months had cost $17 billion, while the figure for international flights was $61 billion.
‘State border closures have seen passenger numbers on Australia’s busiest air routes plummet 91 per cent since March, crippling the aviation sector and causing harmful knock-on effects in tourism and hospitality,’ Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.
‘Every day flights remain grounded costs Australia $69 million or $2.1 billion a month.
‘When you add in international aviation losses at $250 million a day or $7.6 billion per month we are talking about an enormous hit to our economy.’
About 34,000 people have been affected by job losses and furloughed positions, with the nation’s two major carriers laying off around 11,500 employees.
Ms Palaszczuk has swatted away comments her tough border stance was ‘exclusively political’ for months