If you’re dreaming of a sunny summer holiday on the Gold Coast this Christmas, maybe keep those plans on ice for a little longer.
Queensland’s Deputy Premier and Minister for Health Steven Miles has again gone on the attack, saying his state will not reopen borders unless the Chief Health Officer gives the all clear.
Speaking to media on Sunday, Mr Miles fired shots at the opposition, saying the LNP were “running a campaign” to get the borders open in Queensland ahead of the election, despite other states still having restrictions in place.
“What’s really clear is the LNP at both a state and federal level are running a campaign to get our borders open,” Mr Miles said.
“I’d like to see the borders open too, by Christmas, but only if the health advice says that’s safe. Not just because of a political campaign from the LNP. Not just because it’s what Scott Morrison wants.”
“The real question here is … for Deb Frecklington. If she were premier, who would she be listening to,” he asked.
“She seems to be saying that she wouldn’t be listening to the chief health officer – that she would be making these decisions herself, without the advice.
“Does that mean she would just open the borders even if the chief health officer said it was unsafe to do so?”
LNP leader Deb Frecklington responded by calling for Queenslanders to ignore Mr Miles’ comments.
“We have to have strong borders to protect Queenslanders, but we need consistency, compassion and common sense too,” she said.
“We can’t have one rule of AFL stars and celebrities and another rule for ordinary Queenslanders whose families are being torn apart.”
Mr Miles comments come 24 hours after he lashed the Prime Minister for his “extraordinary” criticism of Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk after she refused to allow a Canberra woman go to her father’s funeral.
He said Ms Palaszczuk had faced attacks for months from Mr Morrison, and federal members Peter Dutton and Mathias Cormann.
“Those three blokes, none of them are known for their compassion,” he said on Saturday.
“But has he ever cried about the people who have died in aged care under his watch?
“Has he ever cried about the Ruby Princess, which saw people spread right throughout this country with COVID-19?
“Does he cry right now for the tens of thousands of Australians who are stranded overseas unable to return home?
“They are all things he is responsible for, but he has never once taken any responsibility, never once expressed any kind of regret.
“These restrictions apply in Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia and Northern Territory but did you once see Scott Morrison talk about any of those states, those that don’t have elections coming up?”
Mr Miles reported on Sunday his state recorded no new cases of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the Deputy leader has also hit out at Qantas over its pressure for states and territories to reopen their borders.
Last week, the Australian airline made another move in pressuring state and territory leaders to reopen their borders by launching a petition the airline hopes thousands of employees and suppliers will sign.
The petition – which is also open to the tourism industry to support – is calling for a common definition of a COVID-19 “hotspot” to be used when making border closures.
According to the airline, the petition calls for “decisions on domestic border closures to be risk-assessed against an agreed set of medical criteria and a shared definition of what constitutes a COVID hotspot”.
But Mr Miles turned the table on Qantas, saying the airline needed to show more compassion to Australians trying to return from overseas.
“These companies and their chief executives obviously have a right to further their economic interests of the companies, but the government has a responsibility first and foremost to take care of the health and the jobs of Queenslanders, and that is what we will continue to do,” he said.
“Can I just say, if the boss of Qantas wanted to do more and show compassion for Australians, then he wouldn’t be gouging them tens of thousands of dollars just to come home.
“He would be working with the government to get them home, rather than attacking us on the front page of the paper.”