Queensland’s Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has had a fiery back-and-forth with reporters during a press conference over the issue of border closures.
Fronting reporters on Wednesday to give the state’s update on coronavirus case numbers, Ms Palaszczuk was bombarded with questions on when Queensland will reopen its borders with other states, amid mounting pressure for her NSW and federal counterparts.
Queensland, along with Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory shut its borders to stop the spread of COVID-19 and while the tourism industry suffers, it is unclear exactly when Australians will be free to travel domestically.
While the federal government has provided the framework for easing restrictions in three stages, it is up to state and territories to implement the changes. Interstate travel is not listed until the third and final stage of the federal ‘roadmap’.
While Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young was answering questions, one journalist asked about whether the state would open up borders by July 10, as per the roadmap.
“Yeah, under review,” Ms Palaszczuk responded to the reporter, while Dr Young had the floor.
“It says very clearly,” the Premier added.
“Under review,” the journalist acknowledged off camera. “And you said September on Monday.”
“No, no, I said each month,” the premier once again interjected.
“I said very clearly each month we will be reviewing ... Don’t, please, put incorrect words in my mouth.”
Ms Palaszczuk said the state would be reviewing every month as to what restrictions could ease.
The back-and-forth comes after Dr Young made the stunning and bleak admission that the tourism industry may have to hold off until September, after saying the “very, very earliest” would be July.
"If the tourism industry wants a more realistic scenario they should be preparing for September," Dr Young said.
"Having said that, I can't even commit that September will be possible.
"It depends what happens between now and then."
Before wrapping up the press conference, Ms Palaszczuk took more questions from reporters.
“Tourism will always survive here in Queensland,” she said.
“I mean we have a robust industry, they are really hurting at the moment, I understand that, but I want to see Queenslanders supporting Queenslanders.
“In our roadmap it says very clearly there in July, everything going well, fingers crossed that Queenslanders will be able to move right throughout Queensland.”
She pointed out Queensland has been able to ease restriction before the state’s southern counterparts, asserting that NSW and Victoria would have to get community transmission of the virus under control before people would be allowed to travel to the sunshine state.
Travel restrictions in Queensland are slowly being eased, with day trips of up to 150km now allowed and 500km for remote residents.
Closed states back each other
Earlier in the week, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian hit out at her Ms Palaszczuk for saying the border with NSW may not reopen until September.
Ms Berejiklian said the sooner people could travel to other parts of Australia, the quicker the economy would recover.
Airline pilots sided with the NSW leader on Monday, urging a July 1 border reopening.
However, Western Australia’s premier backed Queensland saying the west would not reopen anytime soon.
“We had very low rates of infection here, they had higher rates in the eastern states, so we will keep the border up until we think it is the right time for the health of Western Australians,” Mark McGowan said.
Whereas South Australia will remain shut until other states “perform” and eradicate COVID-19 community transmission.
On Wednesday, NSW announced it will relax travel rules within the state from June 1 with regional travel allowed for interstate visitors and residents.
"NSW will welcome visitors from all across the country," Ms Berejiklian said this morning, however, holidaymakers will still be required to adhere to social distancing measures.
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