A top doctor has rejected a claim that state borders could be shut for the rest of the year and ruin Australia’s economy.
Speaking on Today this 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.”
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His comments come just 24 hours after NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian scrapped travel restrictions across the state from June 1, allowing residents freedom to holiday throughout the winter season.
Ms Berejiklian 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 told 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.”
But Queensland’s Chief Medical Officer Jeannette Young disagreed, saying despite the restrictions lifted in NSW, now is not the time for people to travel.
“This is not the time for tourists to travel to Queensland,” she said.
The Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey said they won’t be lectured by NSW on opening the borders, given they’re the “worst performing state in Australia”.
“There are 33 times the number of active cases in NSW compared to Queensland,” he said on Thursday.
“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.”
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says she will stand firm, refusing to open the states borders despite pressure to do so.
“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 has had borders closed since April 5, supported Queensland’s stance on opening borders, accusing Ms Berejiklian of “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.”