Full blown border war: Unapologetic Anna under attack

An unapologetic Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is sticking to her guns while copping another barrage of attacks over her decision to keep the state's borders closed.

The Sunshine State will hold firm on keeping borders closed, with Ms Palaszczuk declaring that allowing infected southerners into the state could cripple the tourism industry for years.

The Premier, who is meeting with Gold Coast businesses today with Tourism Minister Kate Jones, said decisions would be made on Sunday around restrictions, "but it would be highly unlikely" the border would reopen considering the high levels of community transmission in NSW and Victoria.

In a terse press conference in which she declared she didn't want "one of two people" to come into Queensland and "spread it around", Ms Palaszczuk turned questions on a reporter as she defended the policy.

Asked about how the winter tourism season would be impacted by the loss of southern travel, Ms Palaszczuk shot back at the female journalist: "Well you obviously have a family."

"Do you want your family to have community transmission from NSW?

"Do you? Do you want to put that at risk?

"No, no, no. But I think we all care about our families.

"We all care about Queensland."

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is not bowing to any pressure on the border closure. Picture Glenn Hampson
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is not bowing to any pressure on the border closure. Picture Glenn Hampson

Meetings today follow displeasure from the tourism industry over comments last week in which the Premier suggested interstate travellers may not be allowed until September despite the government's roadmap saying interstate travel could be allowed from July, subject to review.

The Premier said it was a difficult period for the tourism industry across the world.

"South Australia has their borders shut, Tasmania has their borders shut, WA has their borders shut, NT has their borders shut, Queensland has their borders shut," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"… These are really hard decisions, everyone.

"I mean, I have sleepless nights, I understand people are hurting, I understand people have lost their jobs.

"I want to get people back into work as quickly as possible, but if I don't do it safely, it could cripple our industry for years to come and take us backwards and no one wants to go back into lockdown.

"… I can see what's happening around the world and I don't want a second wave here in Queensland."

Queensland’s borders will remain closed until the interstate threat of community transmission is eased.
Queensland’s borders will remain closed until the interstate threat of community transmission is eased.

She said she would continue to take the advice of Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young.

"All it takes is one or two people that have COVID-19 to come into Queensland and spread it around and we go back to where we started from and that's the last thing I want to see," she said.

In a shot at the NSW and Victorian premiers, Ms Palaszczuk told them to "get your cases under control so we can open up", as she also took a shot at federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham who also had a crack at her today.

"Go and ask Simon Birmingham when the international borders will be open," she said.

"He can't give you a straight answer."

It came after Mr Birmingham fired another shot at the Queensland Government over its border closure, warning it risked inflicting more damage on the already struggling economy.

"We don't want (the economy) to get any worse than it otherwise needs to be and in a state like Queensland, it is so heavily tourism dependent, it's crucial that they give their businesses a chance to survive through this," he told Channel 9.

He also said that the internal border closures were a "real concern" as they threatened the likelihood of an international travel bubble opening up with New Zealand.

"I mean one state shouldn't hold up the progress of other states but I could understand why, if you were New Zealand, you'd be sitting there going: if the Australian states can't work it out amongst themselves, why would we start to allow travel to occur?" he said.

"That is a real concern for me that we could end up with a situation where New Zealand delays such an agreement and therefore some Australian states who are ready miss out because of the difficulties being imposed."

Mr Birmingham said Queensland had the nation's most tourism-dependent economy so it was facing the biggest threat to jobs and businesses by continuing to remain isolated.

"Queensland is the state in Australia most heavily dependent on tourism to sustain small businesses and jobs and Queenslanders have the most at stake and the most to lose if these border restrictions stay in place too long," he told Sky News.

He said state's were not being encouraged to "do anything that isn't safe".

Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham says the border closure is hurting tourism. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)
Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham says the border closure is hurting tourism. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

"Things have improved greatly from where they were a couple of months ago when these restrictions were put in place and as long as each of the steps of opening up within states can be done safely, then we should see the step taken to open up across states as well," he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles has attempted to blame Queensland's failure to open borders on Prime Minister Scott Morrison instead of his own party in an awkward gaffe-filled interview.

Ms Palaszczuk is the person responsible for her state's borders staying shut but Mr Marles said that fact was not "clear" to him in an interview with Sky News presenter Peter Stefanovic this morning.

"This needs to be done with leadership from our Prime Minister and the fact we've got governments in Australia, including the Commonwealth, squabbling over whether or not borders should be open or shut says everything about the failure of Scott Morrison's leadership," he said.

Mr Stefanovic pushed back saying: "to be fair to Scott Morrison, he doesn't run the borders, it's the premiers who do that".

A Queensland police officer speaks with a motorist at a checkpoint at Coolangatta on the Queensland-New South Wales border. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
A Queensland police officer speaks with a motorist at a checkpoint at Coolangatta on the Queensland-New South Wales border. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

The statement stumped Labor's deputy leader who said that fact was not "clear to me".

"I think the fact of the matter here is we are talking about borders within our nation, physical distancing measures which are going on in Australia, we need national leadership from our national leader and he's gone missing in action on this," he said.

Mr Stefanovic again clarified that it was actually Queensland Labor Premier "Annastacia Palaszczuk's call to reopen the borders, it's not Scott Morrison's call".

"Surely it's on the Premier to reopen that border and get that traffic going again to help these businesses regardless of what the PM does," Mr Stefanovic said.

Mr Marles disagreed saying the call needed to be made on a national level.

"I think how we get out of this crisis is a national issue and it involves cooperation at all levels," he said.

"We see this time and again with Scott Morrison, he likes to be there on the good days but when things get tough it is then a matter for some other government, its not his business."

Mr Marles failed to acknowledge the fact that Mr Morrison's Federal Tourism Minister, Simon Birmingham, has repeatedly urged states to open their borders, a decision Labor in Queensland has resisted strongly.

"I expect that if the successful suppression of COVID continues then the states should be relaxing their border controls," Mr Birmingham exclusively told Sky News Political Editor Andrew Clennell on May 18.

"If one or two states were to hold out they will be answerable to their tourism industry and will need to provide additional support to that industry."

Meanwhile, Ms Palaszczuk said she would be considering whether restrictions on having 20 people in cafes and restaurants could be raised as she spoke with operators today, ahead of meeting with the peak industry group tomorrow.

"If the COVID-safe plans are in place, they will be allowed to have more (people) in," she said, adding that numbers would depend on the size of the venue."

And the Premier revealed Olympic discussions were "on hold" at the moment as the world waited to see whether the Tokyo Games would go ahead.

Originally published as Full blown border war: Unapologetic Anna under attack


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