Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has urged the Australian federal government to keep army forces in place at state COVID-19 border checkpoints ahead of the state’s agreement with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) expiring on Sept. 30.
Palaszczuk says her state is being singled out as the ADF will remain in place at the New South Wales (NSW), South Australia, and the Northern Territory until Oct. 19.
“I urge the Commonwealth to reconsider and treat Queensland like everyone else; stop singling Queensland out,” the premier said on Sept. 25.
Following the premier’s comments, Deputy Premier Steven Miles accused federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg of lying about Queensland’s request for an extension of ADF support.
Speaking to reporters on Sept. 25, Miles said that Frydenberg had told the media that Queensland did not request an extension and said Frydenberg owed him an apology.
However, Frydenberg pushed back against the comments on 4CB radio on Sept. 25 declaring: “This bloke is a bumbling, stumbling, lightweight who’s completely out of his depth. He’s making it up as he goes. This is amateur hour.”
Responding to the remarks, Miles said: “They can call me all the names in the world they want to, but that is not going to affect my resolve or Queenslanders’ resolve to address this virus.”
The premier closed Queensland’s borders in response to an outbreak of COVID-19 in July. Since then, the federal government has criticised Palaszczuk for the decision, suggesting that it is a political move ahead of state elections in October, and have asked for transparency around the medical advice relied upon to close the borders.
The premier has rebuffed these criticisms, asserting that she is putting the health and safety of 5 million Queenslanders first.
The ADF was provided to Queensland to help state authorities at ground border crossings as well as at airports.
ADF told The Epoch Times that they advised Queensland authorities Sept. 11 of the need to transition ADF support on borders to alternative arrangements when the current agreement with ADF expires at the end of the month.
The ADF will reallocate its resources toward support for mandatory quarantine arrangements and to prepare for the high-risk weather season.
The day after the ADF is due to withdraw, Queensland will open its borders to allow 152,000 NSW residents into Queensland if they live within 100 kilometres of the border.
Queensland has gone 15 days without a new case of community-transmitted COVID-19 and has only five active cases.