Former Premier shuts down NSW border opening
Former Queensland Premier Peter Beattie has hit out at Annastacia Palaszczuk over the ongoing border debacle, saying she should be following the lead of her NSW counterpart rather than keeping the gates to her state closed.
Speaking on Channel 9's Today, the former Queensland Labor leader said his comments about the Premier's handling of the border didn't come down to party loyalty, but about seeing Australians getting back to work and a sense of normality amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"My point is really simple," he told hosts Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon.
"I think everyone - when we didn't know a lot about the virus - did a good job. That includes the Queensland Government and governments around Australia. But now what we have seen is the best method to apply is the one in NSW. That's that contact tracing, and it is what we need to do that at an Australian level. This is not about disloyalty … This is about Australia."
Mr Beattie's latest comments come as Ms Palaszczuk faces ongoing pressure over her border policy. The Premier says she will make a decision on the status of her border with NSW on Friday - just 24 hours before Queenslanders go to the polls for the state election.
On Monday, Mr Beattie said it "pained" him to make the criticism of his own party, but said Australia had a "unique" opportunity to fight the virus as a country, and not "on a state-by-state basis".
"You saw what happened on Wall Street overnight, you saw the infection rates in Europe … this is a unique opportunity for Australia to come together as a nation and partner with fellow countries like New Zealand, some of the islands in the Pacific, maybe even Japan, to open up our economy for jobs for Australia," he said on Tuesday.
"There is a loss in the major cities and that's largely where our population is. We have to find ways to protect jobs in Australia, grow the economy, and open up. The way to do that is not have state borders, do this as a nation, as Australians, and do contact tracing, which is the way to do it.
"In NSW yesterday, as you both know, one community infection, and they know the source of it. In Victoria, yesterday, no infections.
So, if Queensland wants to have a lot of people out of Sydney coming to put jobs in the Gold Coast, Cairns, Townsville, now is the time to change the strategy. No criticism of the past. This is about the future."
Queensland has its border closed to NSW and Victoria, with the Palaszczuk Government insisting they will no reopen unless both states can go at least 28 days without any community transmission cases.
Mr Beattie said "what worked in the past won't work in the future" and that whoever wins the election this weekend will have their work cut out for them to rebuild.
"Whoever wins in Queensland will have to pick up the pieces whether it's the current government or a new government … they will be dealing with the economics of COVID and it's the same in Victoria,'' he told The Daily Telegraph.
"What may have given people security in the past and made them feel safe will not make them feel safe in the future. Queensland is a small business state and … unless you get them driving jobs and opportunities then you don't have any economic growth."
On Tuesday, he added: "We have largely got the virus under control.
"Let's talk about the future. Let's give everyone a pat on the back for the past and say it was wonderful, but now let's bring down the state borders and do contact tracing. That's the answer."
Meanwhile, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has called on Ms Palaszczuk to end the "games" on the border closure, because it is " affecting people's lives especially in mid and northern New South Wales".
"It's a very difficult time for people in this region...especially when the border closer is completely unnecessary," Ms Berejiklian told media on Tuesday.
"We have demonstrated our capacity to run a strong economy, but also to protect and keep the community safe. And I hope the Queensland Government accepts that they should too."
When questioned over Ms Berejikilian's current border closure with Victoria, the NSW Premier said the Garden state had a big test ahead of them before any form of easing would take place.
"We want to open that border [with Victoria] as soon as we can but what is really important to us is to see what happens once the Government eases restrictions down there. That's the real test," Ms Berejiklian said.
"I knew the real test for New South Wales is not lockdown, it's easy not to spread the virus when people have limited mobility, but once you ease restrictions and people start moving around again and start working, that's the real test and I think the residents of New South Wales would expect me and my Government to be responsible in how we deal with that.
"So we'll take the border down as soon as we can, but we do need to wait to see what impact easing of restrictions in Melbourne and Victoria has before we decide exactly when that will be."
Originally published as Premier shuts down NSW border opening