Premier lashed for ‘cruel and petty’ rules
Australia's leaders engaged in a bitter war of words again on Thursday as the nation grappled with new coronavirus cases and potential border closures.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was in the firing line as Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian lashed their political colleague for her strong stance on keeping the NSW-Queensland border shut.
NSW recorded 12 new cases of coronavirus today and broke its 12 day streak of no community transmission.
12 new cases of #COVID19 were diagnosed in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) October 8, 2020
Of the 12 new cases:
- 4 are returned overseas travellers in hotel quarantine
- 8 are locally acquired (3 of these cases were announced to the public yesterday, and are included in today’s numbers) pic.twitter.com/NKLXGKmJlv
RELATED: Follow our live coronavirus updates
Queensland Health, supported by the state government, requires 28 days of no community transmission in NSW for the state border to be reopened.
Following the new cases found in NSW on Wednesday, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and her deputy Steven Miles gave their southern neighbour 48 hours to trace the where the mystery cases had come from.
Ms Berejiklian didn't mince words on Thursday morning as she sent a message to NSW's contact tracers.
"Just continue to do your jobs well, please ignore those artificial deadlines other governments are imposing on you," the premier said.
Ms Berejiklian said she was perplexed at the 48-hour window Queensland had given NSW to figure out where its new coronavirus cases had come from, labelling it "illogical".
"The Queensland government seems to be making up rules as they go along," she said.
"Does that mean every time there's a community transmission with an unknown source anywhere in the country that you're going to shut your border down again? Is that how little faith you have in the health systems?"
"At the end of the day we're Australians: people have basic needs, people have basic aspirations and people want hope for the future."
But the strongest takedown came from NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard, who asked to issue a final message to the Queensland premier in Thursday morning's press conference.
"As health minister here in NSW, I'm over it," he told reporters.
"I've got to say I think Premier Palaszczuk is being political, she is being cruel. It's time this pettiness is put aside and we move forward.
"As health minister I am constantly having requests from people in NSW who are in some very sad situations who want to get across the border to reunite with families.
"The range of circumstances that families need to gather together to contemplate, to care about, give each other care and support, is just enormous."
The prime minister also weighed in and said Queensland's aviation and tourism industries had been decimated by the ongoing restrictions.
"Is she for jobs or not?" Mr Morrison asked 2GB on Thursday morning, questioning the Queensland premier's pledge to keep borders shut ahead of the October 31 state election.
"The other day she was saying she was all for jobs but being all for jobs means you've got to balance the risks that you face like New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian is.
"They're managing to basically keep cases to an incredibly low level, they're doing a great job with their testing and tracing regime … dealing with outbreaks, getting New South Wales open. "Queensland can do the same thing.
"I want to see people back in jobs … the number of people who have come back in to jobs in New South Wales since we hit the pit of that COVID-recession is a 70 per cent increase. In Queensland, it's 44 per cent."
Ms Palaszczuk, who on Thursday admitted she had not spoken with Ms Berejiklian for three weeks, said she was not "ruling out" any decisions on borders yet.
"I'm always happy to speak to (Ms Berejiklian), she hasn't made an effort to contact me, I'm more than happy (to have her contact me)," she said.
"If the New South Wales Premier is on high alert about those cases, I'm on high alert.
"We are not ruling out anything at the moment. There's another 24 hours for them to look at where those cases came from.
"We hope NSW gets on top of those cases very quickly."
Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles also jumped to the defence of his state today and turned the criticism back on Ms Berejiklian.
"The premier of NSW can choose to reject that health advice but it's that health advice that has kept Queensland and Queenslanders safe," he said.
"I also note that the premier of NSW … said that she was very concerned about the level of community transmission. So if she is concerned about the situation in NSW well of course so are we."
But it isn't just their NSW neighbours that the Queensland government is copping attacks from.
With just a few weeks to go to the Queensland election, the state's Liberal National Party - who are hoping to win on October 31 - are also using the shut border in their attacks.
Today the Prime Minister outlined our plan to restart our economy and get Australians back to work. Meanwhile, Palaszczuk still refuses to commit to a date or a plan to open Queensland's borders, which is leading to businesses closing and jobs being lost. pic.twitter.com/08RQNcrF77— LNP - Liberal National Party (@LNPQLD) May 26, 2020
Opposition leader Deb Frecklington, who hopes to take the top job from Ms Palaszczuk later this month, has also asked for some "common sense" on the borders.
This morning I have written to @AnnastaciaMP and asked for some compassion and common sense to bring this little Queensland girl home. Luella has endured enough without being caught up in the Premier’s politicisation of the borders. #qldpol #auspol pic.twitter.com/5RPjZ2E9IS— Deb Frecklington MP (@DebFrecklington) August 22, 2020
But few Queensland politicians attack the Labor Party as much as Jarrod Bleijie, the state's shadow education and industrial relations minister.
This is disgusting @AnnastaciaMP. Remember @AnnastaciaMP exemption policy allowed rich footballers in because they bring an economic benefit to the state. But Queenslanders like Gary are left behind. This is Qld today under @QLDLabor Disgusting! Change the gov on Oct 31 #qldpol https://t.co/jRvG0gzyFZ— Jarrod Bleijie (@JarrodBleijieMP) October 7, 2020
Originally published as Premier lashed for 'cruel and petty' rules