Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has challenged the reasoning of state premiers for keeping internal borders closed as the country begins to reopen the economy.
He has warned that the state border closures risk destroying tourism and the economy, particularly as the mid-year school holiday period approaches.
The state border closures “should’ve never been there in the first place,” Morrison told Sky News on May 27.
Having formerly targeted Queensland and Western Australia, Morrison now questioned why Tasmania and South Australia’s borders remain closed.
“The expert medical advice at a national level never recommended [closing] internal borders within Australia,” Morrison said. “So those individual states, they’ll have to justify those decisions themselves and, because it wasn’t something that came out of National Cabinet.”
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall told The Australian on Tuesday that he saw no reason to open his borders until Victoria had zero active cases.
The state broke its streak of zero cases when a Victorian resident was allowed to enter South Australia on compassionate grounds.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk expressed views similar to South Australia’s premier last week.
Palaszczuk maintained her hardline approach to border control, writing on Twitter that it protects Queenslanders’ lives and livelihoods:
Met with small and large tourism operators on the Gold Coast to discuss our plan to get domestic tourism moving.
— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) May 26, 2020
Regarding tourism, Palaszczuk’s priority is to mobilise small and large tourism operators within the tourism-dependent state before opening borders.
Meanwhile, Morrison applauded NSW for leading the states in opening up.
“It may well be that Sydneysiders can fly to Auckland before they can fly to Perth, or even the Gold Coast, for that matter,” Morrison told the National Press Club on Tuesday.
Morrison also thanked the many sacrifices Australians have made to escape the “worst-case scenario” while many developed countries experienced 100 times the deaths in Australia.
Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham has called on states to release the scientific advice that is keeping their borders closed.
“It will be up to each state to explain their decision and the firm health advice and rationale behind keeping their borders closed,” Birmingham said.
“If they decide to maintain some borders and not others, or maintain complete border control, well that’s something they’re going to have to release clear health advice on. They are going to have to defer to their tourism industry and others who will face greater economic loss as a result of those decisions.”