Queensland’s Deputy Premier has now stepped back from his own suggestions the state border will not reopen for December 25, allowing families to reunite and Queenslanders shut out to go home.
However, he has reiterated the state wants to see more modelling on what could happen with virus cases if borders open.
“No-one has ever suggested that the border should be closed at Christmas, but what we have said is that it should be opened at the right time and that we don’t yet have the information that tells us what that right time is,” Steven Miles said this morning.
“Let’s focus on what we can do today and tomorrow and next week and that is the best way to make sure that we are open by Christmas.
Queensland is forecast to hit 80 per cent of the eligible population fully vaccinated by early December, but Mr Miles said Queenslanders did not want “Delta for Christmas.”
“I don’t think Queenslanders will want to let COVID in for Christmas if we don’t have it, but New South Wales still does,” he said.
He criticised Prime Minister Scott Morrison for giving people what he says is false hope about the state opening its borders in time for Christmas.
Mr Miles said today Queensland has the fewest restrictions of all eastern states.
“I think when most Queenslanders look at the risk of going back to that kind of lockdown compared to the fantastic lifestyle that we’re experiencing, they’ll be happy for us to continue taking the health advice,” he said.
Meanwhile, former Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth said it would be “a step backwards” if the state keeps its borders closed over Christmas, instead insisting fully vaccinated families should soon be allowed to move freely across Australia.
Mr Miles’ view will deflate the hopes of many struggling Queensland tourism operators hoping for a needed summer boost.
“Families who are fully-vaccinated, with vaccinated over 12s and unvaccinated under 12s, should not be prevented from crossing any state border this Christmas,” Dr Coatsworth told Today.
“That’s my firm view and I think that is a reasonable thing to do for Australians.
“It is not 2020 anymore, it is 2021.”
Speaking on Today, federal minister David Littleproud accused Queensland Annastacia Palaszczuk of reneging on a National Cabinet deal on border openings.
“The Prime Minister established the National Cabinet and put in place the National Plan that Annastacia Palaszczuk sat in the room and agreed to,” Mr Littleproud said.
“The reality is they’ve reneged on that and I suspect they’ll continue to walk this line for some time to come, sadly.
“This is destroying our tourism industry up here.”
Mr Littleproud said the Gold Coast economy will lose $1 billion this quarter because of border closures.
The esplanade in Cairns was “a ghost town”, when Mr Littleproud visited earlier the North Queensland tourist town earlier this month.
Mr Littleproud acknowledged Ms Palaszczuk “has done a good job” keeping Queenslanders safe during the pandemic so far but he argued the time was coming to open up.
“What we need is confidence and certainty.”