Australian PM Blasts WA and Queensland Over Strict Borders

By AAP
October 8, 2020 Updated: October 8, 2020

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has taken aim at Western Australia and Queensland over their strict border closures, saying they should only be in place for health reasons.

NSW residents’ hopes of travelling to Queensland soon could be dashed after the state recorded eight locally acquired cases on Oct. 8, three of which had already been flagged.

Queensland has set a strict benchmark of 28 days of unlinked community transmission before NSW residents can visit.

NSW still has another day to go of a 48-hour deadline before Queensland resets the clock.

But Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk—who is in the midst of a state election campaign—has muddied the waters by saying it won’t automatically occur.

Asked about reopening the border, she said she was “not ruling out anything.”

Of the eight new cases in NSW, one is being investigated while the rest are linked to a known case or cluster.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says businesses not properly following their COVID-safe plans will face the full force of the law.

“Our patience in relation to businesses not doing the right thing is wearing thin,” she told reporters in Sydney on Oct. 8.

WA is using the same strict benchmark as Queensland before allowing travel from eastern states.

Morrison is concerned WA leader Mark McGowan is using the restrictions for economic protectionism, after the premier said a travel bubble with other states would only result in the west losing tourism dollars.

“Locking people in a state so they won’t spend money in other parts of the country, well that’s not the Australian way,” the prime minister told 2GB radio.

He criticised Palaszczuk for keeping borders closed, arguing more people in NSW had returned to work than in her state.

“We need Queenslanders back in jobs.”

Victoria has recorded another 11 cases of coronavirus on Oct. 8 but no deaths, keeping the national toll at 897.

The cases take Melbourne’s all important 14-day case average down to 9.7.

The city needs a 14-day average of five or fewer cases and no more than five mystery cases to ease restrictions on Oct. 19.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says it is “highly unlikely that nothing will change” by that date.

“There will be some changes, the exact nature of those changes we will need to look at,” he told reporters in Melbourne.

“You only get one chance to take these safe and steady steps.

“I think the vast majority of Victorians are determined to do this in a safe way, in a steady way, so that we aren’t pinballing in and out of really onerous restrictions throughout the summer and well into 2021.”

Meanwhile, South Australia has extended its buffer zone with Victoria, easing restrictions on border communities.

By Rebecca Gredley