NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has branded the Queensland government’s refusal to pay its hotel quarantine bill to his state as “extraordinarily ridiculous” and “selfish”.
He says last year, treasurers around the country agreed to cover the hotel quarantine bills that their citizens had racked up while staying interstate after returning from overseas.
Later, it was agreed travellers would have to foot the bill themselves.
NSW is responsible for quarantining the majority of Australians who return from abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The state had issued an invoice to Queensland for $30 million, but on Wednesday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her government would not pay up.
“Yesterday’s decision that they wouldn’t pay the bill to the taxpayers who have covered returning Queensland costs is completely unacceptable,” Mr Perrottet said on Thursday.
“It’s only a fair and reasonable agreement.”
On Thursday morning, Ms Palaszczuk told Channel 9 there was no agreement made.
“No other state is doing it,” she said.
“Come on Gladys, give us a break.”
Ms Palaszczuk also reaffirmed her refusal to pay the bill.
“I think my Deputy Steven Miles tore up that contract the other day, that invoice,” she said.
Mr Perrottet labelled the decision a “political stunt”.
“The whole thing is just extraordinarily ridiculous,” Mr Perrottet said.
“And it’s very disappointing to see that the Queensland government would play politics with the people of NSW who have done the right thing and looked after returning Queenslanders.”
He insists that other states are committed to paying their bills.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she wanted other states to pay up on principle.
“On behalf of the nation, we are doing a huge load. I just want every state to appreciate that,” she said.
“We’re not asking for much, we’re just asking for what we are owed.
“It’s not even the dollars, it’s the principle.”
Relationships between NSW and Queensland have deteriorated over the course of the pandemic.
The highly populated coastal border between NSW and Queensland, which has been closed for large periods of time, has been a particularly sore point for Ms Berejiklian.
On several occasions, Ms Berejiklian has spoken openly about her frustrations with her Queensland counterpart.