Prime Minister Scott Morrison and opposition leader Anthony Albanese will take advantage of Queensland’s domestic border reopening and begin doing the rounds to visit key seats in preparation for the expected-election next year.
The Australian Labor Party’s (ALP) Anthony Albanese began his unofficial campaign in Caboolture, north of Brisbane, on Dec. 13.
According to The Australian, Albanese is expected to target the electorate of Longman, north of Brisbane; Flynn, around Gladstone; and Leichhardt, covering Cape York and Cairns in the northernmost point of the state.
Queensland was a critical state that contributed to Prime Minister Morrison’s Liberal-National Coalition party to victory in 2019. The government currently holds 23 out of 30 seats, compared to the ALP’s six.
“Today’s border reopening is such welcome news for all those families who have been separated for so long, and Queenslanders who have been desperate to get home,” the prime minister told The Australian.
“I can’t wait to be back on the ground this week. I want to see Queenslanders back in charge of their own lives, able to travel again, and most importantly spend time with loved ones.”
Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers conceded that the ALP needed to work harder to win the votes of Queenslanders.
“There is no way we can win the election without doing better in Queensland, we’ve recognised that for some time,” he told the Nine Network.
“Anthony Albanese is an honorary Queenslander; he comes back every time he can. He has a real affinity with Queenslanders.”
The pandemic is expected to be a key factor in the battle for Queensland, with state ALP Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk winning a resounding election victory earlier this year largely in response to her handling of the pandemic—a move that may affect the federal vote.
At the same time, several minor parties, including the United Australia Party, Liberal Democrats, and One Nation, have taken a hard line against government-mandated restrictions and border closures.
This comes after thousands again took to the streets along the border of Queensland and New South Wales (NSW) over the weekend in response to vaccine mandates and government restrictions, including closing the state border.
The closure of the interstate border has had a huge impact on communities in the Coolangatta-Tweed region, which used to see several thousand individuals cross the border every day.
After five months, the Palaszczuk government opened the border on Dec. 13 to vaccinated domestic travellers.
However, travellers will need to prove they have received two doses of the vaccine, received a negative PCR test within 72 hours of crossing, take another test on the fifth day after entering the state, and complete a border entry pass.
Meanwhile, unvaccinated travellers will need to go into hotel quarantine—at their own expense—for two weeks.