The prime minister says Queensland’s border closure isn’t something to boast about and suggests the measure may not be “absolutely necessary”.
Queensland has set NSW a benchmark of 28 days without unlinked community transmission of COVID-19 before the border reopens.
A Sydney nurse tested positive for coronavirus as NSW recorded an additional five community cases on Oct 9, increasing the likelihood the border clock will be reset.
But the nurse and a linked case were the only new locally acquired cases recorded by NSW Health on Saturday morning.
Scott Morrison took aim at the border closure on the state election campaign trail on Saturday.
He suggested it was being kept shut longer than “absolutely necessary” and accused Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk of boasting about the closure.
“You would only have borders in for as long as you absolutely have to have them,” the prime minister said.
“They are not something I suppose to boast of, they are things that are necessary, but are regrettably necessary in many occasions.
“So when you have to have them, well, let’s have them based on medical advice and for only as long as you absolutely have to because the longer they are there, the more they do stop jobs.”
The prime minister also called for Queensland to ensure quarantine rules were clear and consistent.
He confirmed that he had followed the rules and spent the previous fortnight in the ACT before travelling to the Sunshine State.
“I noticed that the Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese didn’t spend 14 days maybe, and it’s not so clear for him to come up here I don’t know,” Morrison grinned.
The prime minister’s comments come a day after Albanese accused him of border hypocrisy.
He said while the prime minister criticises Labor-run states like Queensland and WA he hasn’t said anything about Tasmania, which has a Liberal government.
“If you look at Queensland’s economy, as well as Western Australia’s, it is a fact that the economies that have been doing the best during this difficult period are ones that have made difficult decisions,” the Labor leader told ABC radio on Friday.
“Tasmania’s border, they announced a long time ago now, would be closed until the first of December … and we haven’t heard one word of criticism by anyone from the Liberal and National parties about that.”
Queensland is in the lead-up to its October 31 election, with the Labor government saying it will open the border in November, depending on how many locally acquired cases NSW has.
The Sunshine State had worries of its own on Saturday, with wastewater testing in Townsville picking up traces of COVID-19 after the city had been clear of the virus for weeks.
Victoria recorded another 14 coronavirus cases on Saturday, as the active infections in the state remained below 200 for a second consecutive day.
A second straight day without a COVID death kept the national toll at 897.
Marty Silk in Canberra