War of words over border closures flares up again

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borders closures for grey nomads
WA closed its borders in March. Rebecca Nadge / ABC

With grey nomads watching on as very interested spectators, there appears to be something of a political arm wrestle going in regarding the potential re-opening of Australia’s internal borders.

Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham has again urged State and Territory Governments to open borders to domestic holidaymakers when safe.

“Those states who’ve got border controls in place, assuming we’ve continued to see very low rates of transmission of Covid-19, ought to be looking at opening up their borders,” Senator Birmingham told the Nine Network. “We need people moving across this country again when it’s safe to do so.”

He later told reporters there was no reason why state borders couldn’t reopen well before September if Australia continued to see success in containing the virus.

However, Queensland, Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and South Australia appear in no hurry to open things up.

The WA Premier, Mark McGowan, said it would probably be months before the state’s hard borders were dismantled.

“I know the New South Wales Premier is unhappy, I know Mr Birmingham is unhappy. But frankly, bad luck,” he said. “We’re doing the right thing by the people of WA … it might inconvenience the New South Wales Premier and some people from the eastern states, but frankly, I don’t give a damn.”

Similarly, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has just indicated border closures with southern states could remain until at least September.

However, she said Queensland would consider working with other states that have not had significant community transmission.

“That could be for example South Australians coming to Queensland, because South Australia does not have community transmission,” the Premier said. “I am not going to put at risk the lives of Queenslanders … there is community transmission in NSW and Victoria, that does not prohibit, if other states want to look at working with Queensland, absolutely I am open to that.”

But that’s not going to be much comfort for the state’s tourism bosses, especially as intrastate travel is still extremely limited.

Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said the tourism-driven locations of Cairns and Port Douglas were in a ‘sorry state’.

“Every operator in North Queensland would tell you the same story: they’re hanging on desperately to rescuing some of the winter season for this year,” he said. “We can only hold our breath so long under water, but at some point you have to come up for air.”

South Australia has also indicated its borders will remain shut until the end of winter, and it may be a similar story for the NT.

As far as Tasmania is concerned, Premier Peter Gutwein has said it is ‘far too early’ to set a date.

“If we can continue to follow those rules … I expect that in July we will be able to set a date for when our borders will come down,” he said. “To set a date now would not be common sense.”

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15 Responses to War of words over border closures flares up again

  1. I don’t mind the state borders remaining closed, time to start looking at free movement within our own State. It’s not worth hitching up the van if you can only up to 250 km.

  2. In think the state borders should stay shut indefinitely for at least a year. I don’t care if businesses go broke, so long as my kids and grandkids are alive. and get to live. Longer if we have to, until they find the cure. This country is rich, hell even I can afford to look after ourselves and my family, for as long as it takes. Stuff the rest of the country. Health comes first. wealth comes last. I agree with you Carol.

  3. The 250 km rule has stopped us from going north when we had planed.
    Can go on the 13th July, providing their is no change to the rules.

  4. I live in Gympie and opening up the whole state for Queenslanders would allow us to wander up to Cooktown on a 6 week turnaround. Its starting to get down to 3 and 4 Celiuse some nights. We ready to hitch up.

    • We live a bit further north than you but had planned a trip to the cape which will not be happening now. Only being allowed to travel up to 250km, not worth hitching the van up for.

  5. For all these people advocating keeping the borders closed because it will save lives, you are dreaming. The possibility of finding either a vaccination or cure for this virus is remote at the very least. If we are showing limited cases or deaths in this country then this virus should be treated as every other virus, THAT WE CURRENTLY DO NOT HAVE CURES OR VACCINES FOR. The sensible way of handling this is to all work at our social distancing, proper hygiene practices and start to loosen this restrictions. Unfortunately this virus will be with us a long time similar to SARS, Zika, AIDS and all the others that we have managed to live with. The chances are the longer we keep people locked up with no immediate or at least planned outage from this the more at risk our health is going to be irreparably damage far more than what we are now. Time to move on and start opening things up.

  6. What a silly statement to make Ric “I don’t care if the country goes broke”. If it did your grand kids would not have a future. Keeping everything closed won’t make any difference.

    • I agree entirely Ron, I think people forget we are ONE country, not SEVEN individual entities.

  7. You actually don’t understand, but how could you, I am being sarcastic about it, of course, I care, but am sick of hearing about, keeping everything locked up. It will break the country if we do. But I do agree with keeping our International borders shut indefinitely. It may mean that International travel never starts again, and I am OKAY with that. The Ruby Princess thing was a good example of what not to do. The Federal and State governments should have shut down the cities straight away, and it would have stopped the virus getting out to regional areas, but they didn’t care about us bush people. I am also annoyed with them over that.

  8. Well said Shane. This is the 7th Coronavirus the world has had to deal with & there’s been no vaccine for the previous 6 so I think we just have to get on with things & learn to live with it. I’m going to be enduring another SA winter & would be happy to have Qld open their borders to us South Aussies. However I’d avoid spending any time in NSW or VIC on the way till they get their situations a bit more under control. Keeping all borders closed indefinitely might keep everyone alive & safe but if they don’t have businesses to run & jobs to go to the country will be in dire trouble.

  9. Why must the the other states and the territory open there borders for the two states that have the virus. Well you could boycot the states and the territory that are closed to you. And stop going here and enjoy a trip in your state.

  10. I spent 2 years in the Army where we learned to have each others back. There are some people around here I am glad I wasn’t depending on to do that, the kind of people who would run off shouting “every man for himself”

  11. Can’t see why NT n SA can’t open their borders for travellers from SA only provided social distancing etc is followed. If travellers can prove that they have stayed put in SA since all this drama started then I can’t see an issue. They have had the lowest numbers of cases n I’m sure all businesses would welcome all visitors !

  12. Reading the above, it seems both the WA premier and Queensland premier are both pigheaded morons who don’t understand how coved 19 works and don’t care, I hope they both loose their jobs at their next state elections because of their arrogance

  13. Anna said “Queensland would consider working with other states that have not had significant community transmission. “That could be for example South Australians coming to Queensland, because South Australia does not have community transmission.” I ask the Qld Premier how will SA caravanners be expected to come to Qld via Innamincka and Nockatunga?

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