Australian PM Laments ‘Incredibly Disruptive’ State Border Closures

Australian PM Laments ‘Incredibly Disruptive’ State Border Closures
A Queensland Transport Inspector signals to a driver approaching the border in Wallangarra, Australia on April 2. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

Scott Morrison has expressed frustration at the “incredibly disruptive” impact state border closures are having on individuals and businesses.

The prime minister acknowledged state premiers were trying to protect their own citizens from coronavirus but said more work was needed to make the restrictions more workable.

“I understand what they’re seeking to do but it’s important that all premiers act on the basis of transparent medical advice,” he told ABC News Breakfast on Aug 19.

“If there’s going to be these border arrangements in place they will, of course, have very serious impacts on the economies of their states and the livelihoods of those who live in those states.

“That all has to be weighed up.”

It appears some state borders could remain closed long into next year.

Queensland has warned its borders could remain sealed for several months or until its coronavirus infections have fallen to zero.

Western Australia has cancelled its annual royal show and postponed phase five restrictions for another two months in a bid to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Tasmania’s borders will remain closed until at least December 1.

Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham is disappointed with the decisions.

“I am sure there will be many tourism operators in those states and territories who will be disappointed,” he told the ABC.

“(We need to be) taking a careful, proportionate approach in relation to different states and territories.”

The minister said while encouraging tourism within a state or territory was of benefit, there were even greater benefits from bringing people in from other states.

Senator Birmingham’s home state of South Australia has opened its borders to Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Tasmania.

“I'd urge the other premiers and chief ministers to think about adopting a similar stance, rather than a blanket stance that is only going to continue to harm the tourism industry in those states.”

Labor health spokesman Chris Bowen said the premiers should not be criticised for making their own decisions.

“I think, as Australians, we should support the state premiers,” he said.

Daniel McCulloch, Paul Osborne in Canberra