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Queensland's going backwards (by 5 cases) as Feds buy into border war

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As the border debate continues, Queensland has sent two COVID-19 cases to NSW – on paper, at least.

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Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today said there had been no new cases of COVID-19 reported overnight but Queensland’s tally had unexpectedly improved.

“They do data cleansing and we’re actually minus five, so we’re down to 1056,” Palaszczuk told reporters.

Two of the cases reported on Saturday have subsequently been confirmed as cases being managed in NSW, while the other cases were from April and May and subsequently declared invalid.

“We’ve never had to report that before so we’re very happy about that.”

NSW reported another three new COVID-19 diagnoses overnight, taking the state’s tally to 3,090 – almost twice as many as Queensland. One of the new cases may have been locally-acquired, which has been Queensland’s concern.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has repeatedly called on Queensland to remove border restrictions, in an effort to boost economic growth, at a time when people from southern states might normally travel north for winter holidays.

“I’ve said a lot about that issue already and my views are on the record and my views haven’t changed,” Berejiklian said today.

Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham has labelled Queensland’s border policy “an obstacle to progress” reopening tourism links with New Zealand, after New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she would not allow travel between the two countries while Australia’s internal borders remained closed.

“If New Zealand and some Australian states are ready and willing to progress, then the reluctance of other states to open up their domestic borders shouldn’t become an obstacle to progress,” Birmingham told Nine newspapers.

However, even NSW health officials have suggested a ‘trans-Tasman bubble’ is not likely any time soon and more likely towards the end of 2020.

Palaszczuk today emphasised that the state’s COVID-19 policies were succeeding – “Queensland is a standout” – and that border restrictions would be reviewed at the end of May. The earliest changes could be made is July, however Palaszczuk has speculated it might not be until September.

“Let’s remember that every other state and territory has their borders closed except for NSW and Victoria so we are not alone,” Palaszczuk said.

“But my fundamental issue here is I will not put Queenslanders at risk.”

Palaszczuk made the comments as remaining at-home students were welcomed back to school, a major milestone in Queensland’s cautious easing of pandemic restrictions.

“Back to school and let’s get people back to work,” the Premier said.

Stage two of Queensland’s planned easing of restrictions is scheduled for June 12, however the government has been lobbied by industries and sectors with proposals to better manage the health risks sooner. State Cabinet is meeting today.

“We’re not out of the woods yet, we need to take each day as it comes, each week as it comes,” Palaszczuk said.

“We’ll keep our fingers crossed that Queensland will continue to flatten that curve (of infection).”

Queensland has recorded six deaths from COVID-19 and currently has 12 active cases.

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