Border wars have erupted with NSW telling Queensland the closed border is “ridiculous” and to reopen it or face economic consequences.
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro made the call at the weekend, but Premier Gladys Berejiklian also had a go at both Queensland and Western Australia and said “the sooner the better” border closures end.
This comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison indicated he was keen to have domestic tourism flowing from the July school holidays.
Speaking on Sky News on Sunday, Ms Berejiklian said she had “quietly (been) having a jibe at all of my state colleagues who have their borders shut.
“NSW didn’t, Victoria didn’t,” she said.
“We appreciate that the key to our economic success will be to improve our supply chains and our manufacturing base amongst Australia so you do need to get those borders open as soon as possible in my view.
“I think what’s important is, even though we have tourism as one of our best industries in Australia, especially in NSW, the terms of trade are against us, we actually have more people go overseas than come in, in terms of the tourism dollar.
“But imagine if we actually had more of our 25 million population visiting places around Australia, I mean that is enormous potential, and the sooner we can do that the better in a safe way.
“So the sooner the borders come down the better.”
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has also weighed in, chipping the Queensland Government for accepting its southern neighbour’s GST revenue but not its people, Nine Newspapers reported.
“We look forward to the day when the people of NSW can move as freely across the border with Queensland as out GST dollars do,” he said.
The border closure came into force on March 25 after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced measures to stop Easter holiday travel and the spread of COVID-19.
Physical barriers were erected on major roads and highways and police were empowered to stop anyone from entering who was not a Queensland resident, without a border pass or who did not fall into any exempt category.
Mr Barilaro said, now coronavirus infection numbers had dropped, the continuing border closure made “no sense’ and was an “impost on business”.
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“Here we’ve got the Prime Minister who’s mapped out a three-stage plan to recovery,” he said, adding that “opening industry, opening domestic travel” was part of the plan.
“Queensland they’re beating their chest about putting in a bid for Virgin, yet they’ve got their border closed.
“It’s ridiculous. The virus numbers are down, the border should be open.”
Queensland’s deputy premier Steven Miles responded saying the borders would remain closed until the state’s health officials said they could open.
“We know Sydney can be dreary but hang in there,” he said.
Western Australia closed its state borders and 13 regional borders within the state in early April for the first time in history.
With coronavirus infections under control, it will now reopen from tomorrow all but four regional borders but its state borders remain shut.
Ms Berejiklian has also quipped that she didn’t want to say to people they could go to Auckland before they could go to Brisbane or Perth.
“So I’d really like to see those borders come down, because just that trade and commerce and flexible workforce across the states will boost our economy no end,” she said.