Premier, enough with the borders, time we got on living

 

In talking yesterday about why Greater Sydney is for some reason still closed to Queensland, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian made a good point. She said politics should never get in the way of public health. She is right. But we live in the real world, and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has just won an election largely on her government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic. To therefore expect Ms Palaszczuk would suddenly change her attitude and approach to the borders question is pure fantasy.

Premier Palaszczuk has consistently said two things through this pandemic: first, that she will "always follow the health advice"; and second, that she always reviews the border restrictions at the end of each month and not before.

 

Premier Berejiklian's frustration came after Queensland's chief health officer Jeannette Young indicated that it was theoretically possible that we could allow Victorians in sooner than those from Sydney, depending on how both those states went in coming weeks in contact-tracing any new local cases of COVID.

Ms Berejiklian said she would be "mortified" if Victorians were let into Queensland before Sydneysiders - as "there is absolutely no health advice which says that NSW poses a danger to anybody, quite the contrary."

Far be it for us to suggest we know more about public health than Dr Young and those experts who advise her. But we do scratch our heads when thinking about the current situation: that Queenslanders are free to travel to regional NSW without having to quarantine when returning home, and that anyone from Sydney can freely travel anywhere in NSW.

This means that Queenslanders are mixing with Sydneysiders every day now. If a family from Sydney wants to see their Queensland relatives they simply need to drive to anywhere north of Newcastle and meet up. Further, most other states are now fully open to Sydney. This leads to situations at, for example, last week's State of Origin in Adelaide where people from Sydney are mixing closely with people from Queensland - and yet there is no need for them to quarantine when returning home. It's all pretty silly.

We often plea in this column for commonsense. This is one of those occasions. We would hope that - cases permitting - come the end of the month the ban on Sydneysiders is lifted - and that we are told the plan for the ban on Victorians to be eased before Christmas.

Queensland’s borders remain closed to Victoria and Greater Sydney. Picture: Scott Powick
Queensland’s borders remain closed to Victoria and Greater Sydney. Picture: Scott Powick

Yes, Ms Palaszczuk has done well politically over the past few months playing the parochial Queensland card. It works.

It also has helped keep our state safe, in that we were able to contact trace the very few cases that crept in while Victoria was in the grip of its tragic second wave. But those days are now behind us.

While we are Queenslanders, we are Australians first and foremost. We are also 11 months into this pandemic and so we have had time to prepare. The systems are now in place for us to properly handle any future local outbreaks. Multiple effective vaccines are promised for the first half of the new year.

Fingers crossed we have reached the start of the end of this economy-destroying and deadly pandemic. And that being the case, it is time Premier Palaszczuk changes her approach. It has kept us safe, and clearly Queenslanders are grateful. But it's now time we all got on with our lives - optimistic for the future.

Originally published as Premier, enough with the borders, time we got on living


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