‘Stop the insanity’: Pressure mounts on QLD over border

 

Business leaders, senior federal ministers and the NSW premier are cranking up the heat on hardline Queensland border blocks, urging the "insanity to stop".

But rather than pushing Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to tear them down, it is understood Prime Minister Scott Morrison will urge "common sense and compassionate" reforms to put an end to medical, farming and family heartache.

The first pieces of a "road out" of the pandemic will be laid at Friday's make-or-break National Cabinet meeting in a bid to bring Australia back together.

Mr Morrison will unveil a national hotspot definition, based on COVID-19 case densities per area, but this will only be the first step of the plan.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during Question Time. Picture: David Gray/Getty Images
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during Question Time. Picture: David Gray/Getty Images

A broader "road out" plan will be discussed, featuring a traffic light system for reopening states and the economy.

Queensland is not expected to sign up to the national hotspot definition at the meeting.

It will not be asked to completely open borders and the focus will be on a proper process for dealing with medical, compassionate and agricultural exemptions.

 

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The State Government's refusal to budge on its hard border closures has been criticised as "sabre-rattling" and "electioneering" by Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce president Martin Hall, who said businesses had mortgage deferrals coming to an end and operators were desperate for a more detailed plan to move forward.

"It's frustrating," he said. "There's a never-ending moving of the expectations of the business community.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk poses for a photo at the Gabba. Picture: NCA NewWire/Dan Peled
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk poses for a photo at the Gabba. Picture: NCA NewWire/Dan Peled

"These are people's lives and livelihoods. Confusion is rife. We still don't have a good plan. We've got electioneering getting in the way."

Mr Hall said argy-bargy with the Federal Government was "political sabre-rattling" by the Queensland government ahead of the October 31 state poll.

Housing Industry Association Gold Coast's Toni Bull said: "The border closure and inconsistency regarding who can work where is causing anxiety and financial stress for many builders and tradies who need to cross every day for work."

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage

The state's Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeannette Young, has said Queensland would not reopen to NSW until 28 days without community transmission - which NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said was nearly impossible. "I don't know if we'll ever get to that," she said.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud demanded "the insanity to stop".

"As a Queenslander I'm ashamed," he said. "When the Premier can allow 400 AFL executives to swan around a resort in the Gold Coast but won't allow teenage boarding children to go home to see parents into remote NSW (it) is abhorrent."

Ms Palaszczuk has said the "health of Queenslanders is our No.1 priority and we don't take these safety measures lightly". She said the Economic Recovery Plan was "the most comprehensive".

Health Minister Steven Miles said the government was "saving lives and saving jobs".

Originally published as 'Stop the insanity': Pressure mounts on QLD over border


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