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Christmas is coming, and the Victorians might still make it too, says Premier

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Annastacia Palaszczuk defends Queensland’s once-a-month review of border restrictions, saying the cautious approach has worked. But Christmas is coming.

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The triumphant Labor leader visited Springfield today, where recent storms led to the biggest disaster since COVID-19 was declared an emergency at the start of the year. More storms, floods and potentially cyclones are expected over summer, challenging the disaster management system that has carried Queensland through the pandemic.

But despite the looming wild weather, people in Greater Sydney and Victoria still want to visit Queensland, and for the Palaszczuk government to lift its targeted border restrictions. The biggest advocate for change has been NSW Liberal Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who has publicly criticised Palaszczuk for keeping the restrictions in place, with only monthly reviews, and now claims her Queensland counterpart will not even discuss the matter.

Queensland this week opened up to travel from parts of NSW other than Greater Sydney, where there are still COVID-19 “hotspots”. While the number of airport arrivals and hotel quarantine rooms in use has remained steady, there are delays of up to 50 minutes on Gold Coast border crossings. Victoria remains barred.

Berejiklian claims she sent Palaszczuk a text message after Saturday’s election win to congratulate her and foreshadow the potential for a border resolution. While Palaszczuk’s office claims the border wasn’t mentioned, Palaszczuk inflamed the issue this week when she sent the message “Queenslander” after the Maroons rugby league team beat NSW in the State of Origin.

Berejiklian is now threatening to poach Queensland-based businesses – the NSW budget will be handed down next week – and today said she did not want to talk about their relationship any more.

Palaszczuk today said it was “misleading” to say Berejiklian had sought to initiate any border talks and she had not taken any calls from her NSW counterpart.

“I’m always happy to speak to Gladys, she has my phone number,” Palaszczuk said, noting that previous premiers had “a bit of fun” and even bets for State of Origin.

“Obviously NSW was a bit upset that the mighty Maroons won.”

But in another sign their relationship remains strained, Palaszczuk would not clarify the nature of Berejiklian’s original message: “I’m not going into text messages … like, honestly.”

Palaszczuk and Berejiklian are due to participate in a National Cabinet meeting next Friday.

Queensland recorded no new cases of COVID-19 overnight while NSW recorded four new community-acquired cases and another five in returned travellers already in quarantine.

Palaszczuk reiterated she would take advice from Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young, particularly around the risks of community transmission, and review the border restrictions at the end of every month. She said nothing had happened to warrant more frequent reviews.

“That’s what we’ve done since the very beginning, that’s what we’ve decided to do and it gives people certainty,” Palaszczuk said.

“Everybody knows that our borders have actually protected Queenslanders.”

She denied media reports that she had flagged a tightening of Queensland’s borders, if NSW had more cases of community transmission due to opening up its border with Victoria.

Palaszczuk acknowledged Victoria had dramatically reduced its new cases – it has gone a week without any cases – but said there was a need to monitor progress as the state came out of lockdown. Asked if Queensland could potentially welcome Victorians by Christmas, Palaszczuk said: “We could, if it continues with these really good results.”

“This is a very distressing situation for many families,” Palaszczuk said.

“I’ve got friends in Victoria, I’ve got friends who’ve got families (interstate). But you can only open up when it’s safe.”

Palaszczuk said today’s High Court decision rejecting Clive Palmer’s challenge to the WA border restrictions “proves” Queensland also acted constitutionally.

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