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Red tape, border closures on agenda as national cabinet takes aim at barriers

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison will stress the need to slash red tape on major road and rail projects when he plots the next coronavirus recovery steps with state and territory leaders.

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National cabinet on Friday will look at issues holding up infrastructure building as part of governments’ push to boost jobs post-pandemic.

Border closures will also be a key issue amid ongoing tension between the federal coalition and state governments with hardline approaches.

Queensland is continuing to cop the brunt of federal pressure, but closures remain in place for WA, SA, Tasmania and the NT.

The territory government has indicated it is in the final stretch before borders reopen to domestic tourism.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has channelled his anger at Queensland’s Labor premier, with a state election due later this year.

“They can’t be forced to name a date, but they should name a date if they’re worth their salt,” Mr Dutton told reporters in Canberra on Friday.

“I mean, if you’re the premier of Queensland and you can’t look the tourism operators in Cairns in the eye, then you done deserve to be premier.”

Restrictions will also be under national cabinet’s consideration, including rules around indoor gatherings and how airlines operate.

Morrison has argued progress on easing restrictions is being hampered by Black Lives Matter protests defying health advice on mass gatherings.

A man who attended last weekend’s rally in Melbourne has tested positive for the disease but it could take weeks to determine whether others were infected.

The prime minister is urging authorities to arrest and charge people who attend future protests.

Mr Dutton also lashed out at the “selfish” protesters.

“I think there’s a level of complacency in Australian society at the moment and these protesters are demonstrating it quite selfishly,” he said.

The protester’s positive result was one of eight new cases in Victoria recorded on Thursday, while Australia’s other infection was in Queensland.

Just 18 people remain in hospital with the disease, with two in intensive care on ventilators.

Australia’s death toll remains at 102, while 6761 people have recovered from 7285 infections.

-AAP

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