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Fri, 22 May, 2020

Border wars: Minister rips into Australia's "worst state"

Border wars: Minister rips into Australia's "worst state"

Queensland’s Transport Minister Mark Bailey is refusing to back down and adhere to requests made by the NSW premier to open up borders.

On Thursday morning, Mr Bailey told reporters he would not “be lectured.”

“Let’s be very clear, on the border issue, we won’t be lectured to by the worst performing state in Australia,” Mr Bailey told reporters.

“There are 33 times the number of active cases in NSW compared to Queensland. So, NSW needs to get its act together and get its community transmission down and we’ll all be better off throughout this nation, including in Queensland.

“It’s time for Gladys and the NSW government to get their act together and to start performing as well as Queensland has done on the health front.

“We’ve had provisions in place from the very beginning on our public transport system to minimise risks such as rear-door boarding, cashless ticketing and ensuring that people are well aware of how to socially distance. And those communications will increase in coming days.”

Speaking with Today Show hosts on Thursday morning, WA Australian Medical Association president Dr Andrew Miller said the number of virus infections had dropped because of closed borders.

“In Western Australia, which is a very vulnerable huge place to protect, it has been because of the border closures and because we don’t have community spread like in the other states,” Dr Miller said.

“This thing is like a fire. You either have a tiny bit of it out or the whole thing takes off.

“We can’t have medium case numbers, that doesn’t work. It is either very, very little or the whole thing is on fire with coronavirus. We could easily be the UK or the US; it is the exactly the same disease.”

His comments follow just 24 hours after Gladys Berejiklian completely scrapped travel restrictions across the state from June 1, which will allow residents freedom to holiday throughout the winter season.

The politician said the decision for states and territories to keep their borders closed was “not logical” especially if kept in place for a longer period of time.

“I just don’t think it’s logical at this stage to maintain those border closures for a prolonged period of time,” Ms Berejiklian explained to ABC News Breakfast on Thursday.

“New South Wales is in a position now where we’re really focused on jobs and the economy, and we’ll be able to get our industries up and running. But for Australia to really move forward as a nation during this very difficult economic time as well as difficult health time, we do need our borders down, we do need to allow people to move between states, to live, to work, to see family.

“That’s why I was pleased that both New South Wales and Victoria, we actually kept our borders completely open during the pandemic – admittedly, because we’re the largest states, I presume and assume the smaller states wanted to limit anyone from our states visiting them who might have the virus.

“But I think that those concerns have now been allayed, given the small number of new cases we’re seeing across the nation. And what’s really critical to us now as a nation is to get the jobs going, is to stop us falling off an economic cliff in a few months’ time.

“That should be cause for concern for all of us. And the best way we can manage that is by allowing people to move freely.”

Queensland’s Chief Medical Officer Jeannette Young slayed Ms. Berejiklian’s comments, saying now is not the time to travel despite NSW restrictions lifting.

“This is not the time for tourists to travel to Queensland,” she said.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says she will not bow down and reopen borders.

“We are not going to be lectured by a state who has the highest number of cases in Australia,” she said.

“I will always put Queenslanders first. That’s my job,” she said.

“We’ve got to protect Queenslanders. Their health is my number one priority. We will review at the end of each month.”

WA Premier Mark McGowan, whose state’s borders have been completely closed since April 5, spoke out in support of Queensland’s stance on opening borders.

He went on to accuse Ms Berejiklian of using “bullying tactics” for her pressure on other states to allow interstate travel.

“It’s odd. NSW is saying don’t catch public transport in Sydney … yet they’re saying why can’t NSW people fly to WA? The message is totally inconsistent,” Mr McGowan said.

“We’re not going to give in to that sort of bullying by the NSW premier or anyone else.”