NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has lobbed another grenade in the ongoing feud with Queensland, suggesting Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is a victim of her own hard border closures.
Ms Palaszczuk has drawn criticism from both state and federal politicians after calling on the federal government on Thursday to extend the JobKeeper payment for struggling industries such as the tourism sector.
Ms Berejiklian sighed and shook her head when she was asked about her Queensland counterpart’s plea for help on Friday.
“She is now the victim of a policy that she put in place herself,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“NSW has been so strong on keeping borders open in Australia … to prevent exactly what the Queensland Premier is now complaining about.
“When you unnecessarily close state borders you lose jobs, you create hardship, you impact people’s mental health and wellbeing.”
Ms Palaszczuk pleaded for an extension to JobKeeper when she fronted a press conference in Cairns on Thursday.
“We really need the federal government to think about extending JobKeeper for these industries that are doing it tough,” she said.
“There’s about, from memory, 10,000 businesses here in the tropical north that are on JobKeeper at the moment and that’s going to have a huge impact on employment, especially when JobKeeper ends at the end of March.
“We understand a lot of businesses are back on their feet but there are some industries that aren’t.
“What we’re asking for is a helping hand during this hour of need.”
Ms Berejiklian and Ms Palaszczuk have often clashed over the issue of border closures, with Ms Berejiklian arguing that open borders are essential to maintaining economic activity and supporting jobs.
Ms Berejiklian again urged state premiers to consider the impact of border closures on jobs and families.
“I completely support having strong borders to Australia,” she said.
“But for all of us within Australia, we’re all Australians and we should be moving around freely within our country.
“A decision you take can impact someone’s livelihood, it can impact their health, it can impact their mental health and wellbeing.
“That’s why in NSW we like to find that balance of keeping the virus at bay but also keeping the economy going and keeping our citizens moving freely and I wish other states would consider that approach as well.”
But Ms Palaszczuk later brushed off the criticism – and an accompanying swipe from Sydney newspaper The Daily Telegraph. On Friday, its front-page headline read: “Anna’s Job Stinker – broke banana bungler begs us to bail her out”.
“They can call me whatever names they want, right, but honestly, I will always stand up for people in this state,” she said.
“I sat around with tourism operators, they are hurting.
“We’ll just let NSW be NSW.”
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg responded to Ms Palaszczuk’s JobKeeper plea by suggesting Queensland should put its hand in its own pocket to stimulate growth.
He said the Commonwealth had already spent three times the amount that the state government had spent in Queensland.
Ms Palaszczuk called Mr Frydenberg’s comments “a bit rich” given Queensland had spent $11 billion on stimulus – proportionately more than NSW and Victoria.
“Perhaps rather than Josh Frydenberg name calling, perhaps he could go up there and listen first hand as well.”
Earlier, she called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to take full control of international quarantine.
Under the constitution, the federal government is responsible for quarantining international arrivals, but states and territories have agreed to do so in city hotels and a camp since the pandemic began.
Ms Palaszczuk recently proposed moving quarantine to vacant regional mining camps, such as the Northern Territory’s Howard Springs facility.
“Just as we weren’t willing to take chances when we declared a public health emergency 12 months ago, we are not willing to take chances when it comes to keeping new and more infectious strains out of Queensland,” she wrote on Twitter.
“That’s why I am publicly calling on the Prime Minister to take greater responsibility for international quarantine.”
Queensland will fully re-open its border to residents of Greater Sydney from 1am on Monday.