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Frecklington supports 'please explain' ultimatum to NSW over eight mystery cases

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LNP leader Deb Frecklington backs call for NSW to investigate the state’s eight latest infections and explain its cases or face continued Queensland border closure.

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After being briefed by Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young this morning, Frecklington said she accepted that NSW had potentially untraceable cases of COVID-19 that might warrant the border remaining closed.

NSW Premier Gladys Berekijlian had argued it was unreasonable for the state to be expected to go 28 days without community transmission of COVID-19.

NSW recorded 12 new cases today, including another five cases where the source could not be determined, making for the second consecutive day of suspected community transmission in the state. Queensland again had no new cases – and racked up 28 days since the last case of community transmission – with only four cases still active.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has yet to rule out the proposed November 1 easing of border restrictions having to be delayed, again, saying NSW had another 24 hours to trace the origin of the first three suspect cases before a decision would be made.

The border review would normally take place at the end of October, coinciding with the election itself, and require a 28-day clear period for change to be made. The decision is expected to be brought forward.

“We are not ruling out anything at the moment,” Palaszczuk said, while reiterating her priority was to keep Queensland safe.

“There’s another 24 hours for them to look at where those cases came from.”

Frecklington, despite previously questioning whether the border policy was political and not evidence-based, today backed Queensland continuing to rely on health advice. Her briefing from Dr Young came after she complained yesterday of the Premier not facilitating such a meeting.

The LNP leader called on NSW to trace the latest cases as soon as possible, in a sign her border rhetoric may have shifted.

“We would like to see, and like to make sure, that our borders don’t have to be shut for a day longer than they have to,” Frecklington said.

Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles said the 48-hour timeframe for NSW to respond was based on the time needed to trace the source, and prevent uncontrolled transmission of the virus.

“We continue to be concerned about the situation in New South Wales (but) they’re doing a pretty good job, don’t get me wrong,” Miles said.

Miles was speaking on the Gold Coast where he announced Labor would fund an $111.3 million expansion of the Gold Coast University Hospital.

He also noted that carnival workers in Mackay had been found to have travelled into Queensland without the proper paperwork and, despite testing negative to COVID-19, would be investigated.

While Frecklington offered bipartisan support to the health-based border policy, she reiterated that, if elected on October 31, the LNP would show more “compassion, consistency and common sense” than Labor with regard to granting exemptions.

Miles, who faced questions about individual cases of people caught up by the restrictions, said Palaszczuk had shown compassion throughout the pandemic. He said Queensland Health continued to work through any issues.

Palaszczuk was also asked about individual cases and said Queensland Health had been urged to look for alternatives to help those affected. She bristled, however, when asked about her relationship with Berejiklian, saying that as Premier of Queensland her priority was to do best for the people of Queensland.

Frecklington and Palaszczuk have both campaigned in north Queensland today, where several marginal seats are in contention at the election, the first for a four-year parliamentary term.

On the hustings in Cairns, where she wore a high-vis vest for the third consecutive day like her Labor counterpart, Frecklington promised to boost Queensland’s economic recovery by supporting businesses.

Frecklington visited BSE Maritime Solutions in Cairns to promise $20 million towards a new ship lift, which she said would make north Queensland more attractive as a Defence marine hub.

“We want to get locals back into jobs, we want to support the manufacturing jobs that are right here in Cairns,” Frecklington said.

Frecklington said the LNP’s promised electricity subsidy for manufacturers would also save BSE about $78,000, giving the company the capacity to hire more staff if required.

After Labor promised $100 million to upgrade TAFE colleges, likely funded through borrowings, the LNP accused Labor of failing apprentices and trainees, with course completions falling by almost a third in recent years.

Miles said BSE was one of the LNP’s major donors – records show it donated $16,500 in 2016, however boss Justin Parer has donated more than $60,000 since then – and her $20 million promise could only be paid for through cuts to government services, including health.

 

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