NSW slams ‘subsidised’ Queensland
NSW Health officials are in a race against time to prove three new cases of COVID-19 are not locally acquired, if the Queensland-NSW border is to reopen on November 1.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk issued NSW a 48-hour ultimatum to find out where the infections originated as NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian urged residents to come forward for testing amid an alarming plunge in swab rates.
Ms Palaszczuk's latest foray into the border wars threatened to put a wrecking ball through the federal Budget, which rests on the economic assumption that all state borders, except Western Australia, are open by the end of the year.
The war of words comes as two new venues in NSW were found to have links to COVID-19 cases, including a cafe which did not record the contact details of all diners.
Any failure by Queensland to comply with this risks ripping more tourism and business dollars from the economy and reducing economic growth.
Firing a salvo at the sunshine state, NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet labelled Queensland "beautiful one day, subsidised by NSW the next" and noted that it was more likely he could get to "Queenstown before Queensland" under Ms Palaszczuk's rules.
Queensland's position also drew sharp rebuke from Ms Berejiklian: "I notice that Queensland and Western Australia continue to ease restrictions in their communities, but they keep the border up. Now, that is a false sense of security," she said.
The Queensland government has repeatedly said NSW must have 28 days of no community transmission for the border to fully open to its southern neighbour.
Ms Berejiklian said it was "completely unrealistic".
"Until the end of the pandemic, it's highly unlikely, highly improbable, that NSW will ever get to 28 days of no community transmission, because that is not how a pandemic works," she said.
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said ongoing border closures would hurt the economy.
"Closed borders cost jobs so the quicker those borders are open in a COVID-safe way, the better, not just for those local communities and those particular states but across the country," he said.
Ms Palaszczuk confirmed yesterday morning a likely re-set of the 28 day clock should NSW record another case, before she was aware the state was about to post three.
"That's my understanding, according to the chief health officer yes," she said.
Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles later toned down the remarks.
"I don't want to get ahead of ourselves," Mr Miles said.
"The contact tracers in NSW have been doing a really great job. So I hope that they can identify how these are linked to a cluster.
"But if they're not, then that's very concerning and so we would need to take that into account."
Mooloolaba tourism operator Steve Kerry has struggled to stay afloat through an incredibly "hard year" and believes it's "too much" for his overzealous state government to keep the border with NSW shut.
Mr Kerry, 51, has lost about 70 per cent of his customers, who are usually travellers from NSW, and said keeping the border shut was causing a "big downturn" for small tourism businesses.
Mr Kerry said the "huge" impact of the pandemic had seen him shut down two scuba stores, leaving him to operate his business from one small boat. "It's a bit over the top, I understand (Annastacia) Palaszczuk's taking precautions but I think it's too much," he said.
The latest confirmed cases were found in Western Sydney - a woman in her 50s from the Camden area, a man in his 50s from Wollondilly Shire, and a woman in her 50s from Parramatta.
Late on Wednesday night, NSW Health also advised of two new locations visited by confirmed cases of COVID-19.
One confirmed case attended Ripples restaurant in Milson's Point on Saturday 3 October from 8pm to 10.30pm.
However, the details of a small number of walk-in diners in the restaurant during this time were not recorded.
All diners who were in this restaurant at that time are considered close contacts and must immediately get tested and isolate for 14 days since they were there, and stay isolated for the entire period, even if a negative test result is received.
NSW Health also advises anyone who attended the Mazda Artarmon repair centre on Campbell Street between 7.30am and 9.30am are considered casual contacts and should immediately isolate and get tested if they develop the slightest symptoms of COVID-19.
Originally published as Border wars ignite again as NSW slams 'subsidised' Queensland