Why Annastacia Palaszczuk could win political points in the Queensland-NSW border brawl
Queenslanders don’t like being told what to do, especially by their southern neighbours.
So it’s no surprise we saw a terse and frustrated Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk hit back at pressure from New South Wales leader Gladys Berejiklian to reopen the border — citing NSW’s more than 300 active coronavirus cases, compared to Queensland’s 12.
Ms Palaszczuk has repeatedly said she based her decisions on medical advice to stop NSW and Victorian travellers bringing the illness to the Sunshine State.
It seems border closures are far less useful when you’re a net exporter of the virus, compared to a net importer.
The Premier’s choices have been wedged in a tighter political position than usual, with Queensland’s October state election creeping closer.
Opponents have argued the economic fallout of the pandemic would be extenuated by the border shut-down and commentators suggest the Premier has backed herself into a corner that will result in polling pain.
Ms Palaszczuk has taken the position there could be unspeakable damage to the economy, perhaps irreversible, if a second wave were to enter from southern states through opened borders.
And Labor knows, at the moment, it has the political capital on its side, especially in must-win regional areas.
‘We should keep them closed’
There’s a shared opinion among some regional communities on the reluctance to wind back a restriction that kept areas completely COVID-19-free.
Carpentaria Mayor Jack Bawden seconded the Premier’s hard-line border stance.
Diamantina Mayor Rob Dare fell in line with the general consensus backing Ms Palaszczuk’s southern shutdown.
“I agree with her — it seems to be all the cases are in New South Wales and Victoria, so I agree with her stance at the moment,” Cr Dare said.
Even Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate, who is an advocate for large parts of the tourism industry that have been savaged by coronavirus, has publicly endorsed the stand.
And it’s not like Queensland’s isolation attempt is different from many other states, including locked-up South Australia, Western Australia, Northern Territory and Tasmanian, which all have closed borders.
Health authorities spooked
Two recent Queensland cases have spooked authorities, who know how easily the hard work could be undone.