Prime Minister Scott Morrison has signalled that the federal government will ensure Australians have the right to appeal for circumstances related to internal border closures.
“Australia wasn’t built to have internal borders,” Morrison told reporters on Aug. 27.
He asserted that only extreme circumstances, like the situation in Melbourne, warranted state border closures, and only on proper and transparent medical advice.
“I will continue to work to ensure that we have a transparent process and a fair process, that there are appropriate appeals rights that are in place for people who are affected by these decisions cause it does affect their lives,” he said.
However, Wayne Swan, the national president of the Australian Labor Party, thinks the Liberal prime minister is covering for failures in other areas.
Swan wrote on Twitter on Aug. 23: “Media keeps buying the Morrison line State premier border closures are driven by electoral politics so he can excuse his own massive failures on jobs and age care. Border closures are driven by public opinion correctly informed by science.”
Federal ministers have previously called out the Queensland government for not releasing the medical advice upon which it based its decision to close the Queensland-New South Wales border.
On Aug. 26, the ABC reported that a Sunshine Coast father, Simon Perrow, had not seen his 8-year-old daughter for 18 days. “She cried for quite some time,” he said, after he tried to explain to her why he couldn’t visit her again.
“The rules came out on that Friday morning, and to be suddenly told that you can no longer see your daughter — it’s heart-wrenching,” he told the ABC.
As soon as the Queensland government announced the details of the border closure, Perrow drove three-and-a-half hours to see his daughter before the restrictions came into effect.
The prime minister suggested border closures had been one issue the national cabinet had not managed to resolve, despite the efforts of the federal government.
“I can understand Australians are frustrated the border closures are not being addressed as well as we’d hope,” Morrison told reporters on Aug. 27.
“That has not been through any lack of effort on the federal government’s part,” he added.
Morrison said the constitutional issues around internal borders were not as clear cut as those relating to the Commonwealth’s role in foreign affairs.
His comments came while announcing proposed new foreign relations laws that will bring alignment among local, state, federal governments on arrangements with foreign nations that affect Australia’s national interests and foreign affairs.
The prime minister said he would have more to say about state borders at a bush summit on Aug. 28.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters on Aug. 26 the borders would not open because that was not the health advice she received and because that’s what Queenslanders told her they want.
“If we can minimise the virus coming into Queensland that is keeping the health of our families safe but also it means that we are allowing the economy to open up here and that’s good for businesses and that’s good for people who are working right across Queensland,” she said.