A storm of a different kind has erupted over state borders after a sledge from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews about South Australia’s decision to exclude Victorians from quarantine-free entry.
“I don’t want to be offensive to South Australians, but why would you want to go there? … The best experiences in our nation are right here in Victoria,” he said.
“If you are in a position to get away, even if it is only a few days, stay at home, don’t get too stressed they won’t let you into Adelaide.”
SA Premier Steven Marshall announced on Tuesday that the state would drop all entry requirements for people from Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania from midnight.
Residents of those states can now freely enter SA without needing to complete 14 days quarantine.
Mr Marshall flagged a likely similar decision on Queensland within days. But Victorians and visitors from NSW will have to wait until July 20, the date the Premier had flagged a week ago for dropping border restrictions.
On Tuesday, Mr Marshall said he was “still concerned about NSW and Victoria”. On Wednesday, he couldn’t resist a tongue-in-cheek dig, via social media, at Mr Andrews:
Others were less kind:
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who has been vocal in her criticism of states that have shut their borders to prevent the spread of COVID-19, was scathing about Mr Marshall’s move.
“Yes, we comprise a number of states and each premier has led their state in a different way or [taken] a different approach, but that’s no reason to have internal borders,” she said.
“I can’t see the logic in it. I think it’s crazy.”
NSW had just one coronavirus case to report on Wednesday, in a returned overseas traveller.
By contrast, Victoria announced a six-week spike of 21 new coronavirus cases – although 15 of them were in travellers in hotel quarantine. Perhaps that, along with the state’s recent problems with “industrial-scale branch stacking” prompted this cheeky retort from the Adelaide Advertiser:
The other state border that has come in for heavy criticism, including from Ms Berejiklian, is Queensland.
Despite that – and pressure from senior federal government members – Queensland has stood firm.
July 10 has been set as the likely date for it to reopen. That will depend on advice from health authorities.
Queensland had one COVID-19 cases on Tuesday.
Treasury has indicated the delay in reopening the state’s borders has prevented a monthly $650 million boost to Queensland tourism as well as affecting more than 65,000 jobs.
On Wednesday, several of the state’s theme parks announced plans to reopen from June 26.
The state government also faces two legal challenges to the closure. It has said it will fight them in court, although they are unlikely to be heard before July 10.
Tasmania and the Northern Territory, meanwhile, were reluctant to immediately respond to SA’s decision.
NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said his government would stick to its original timetable with a review of state borders by the end of this week.
He said officials were monitoring what was happening in other states daily.
Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein said he still expected to lift border restrictions towards the end of July, “all things going well”. A decision will be announced on June 26.
“Until then our focus remains on a gradual easing of our broader restrictions to ensure we’re well placed to manage any risk associated with coronavirus,” Mr Gutwein said.
That leaves WA as the only state yet to set a date to throw open its borders. Premier Mark McGowan hosed down talk of a potential travel bubble with SA and the NT, saying his government had received Commonwealth advice that such a move would breach the constitution.
“It’s unconstitutional to pick and choose between the states, so we’d be breaking the law were we to try to do an arrangement with South Australia or the Northern Territory,” he said.