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Miles calls on Morrison to focus on vaccine rollout amid travel tensions

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Deputy Premier Steven Miles has rejected claims Queensland’s approach to border restrictions could undermine the Commonwealth’s travel incentives.

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Asked today whether other states were right to fear Queensland’s “trigger happy” approach to border restrictions, Miles said: “I wouldn’t characterise our approach at all that way, at any stage”.

The former health minister said all state border restrictions and closures had been decided carefully, and based on the expert advice of Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young, in order to limit the risk of COVID-19 spreading.

Miles said Queensland last year avoided the large outbreaks seen in other states and, as a result, was able to open up society and the economy faster.

“There are few places in the world that are as open as Queensland right now,” Miles said today, ahead of limits on gatherings easing again at 1am Saturday.

Miles again questioned why Morrison Government’s recently announced flight subsidies would not allow Brisbane residents to holiday at Queensland destinations.

“Cairns is, after all, further away than Melbourne,” Miles said, pointing to the far north Queensland city most affected by international travel bans.

“Lots of people in Brisbane have never visited Cairns.”

Miles also called for Townsville and Hervey Bay to be added to the list of tourism destinations, asking why the Morrison Government “hates” those cities.

In a federal election year, Miles and his Labor colleagues are wary of the Palaszczuk Government being targeted for political reasons, and that the Federal Coalition might start fights in Queensland to win votes.

But Morrison today insisted there was no preferential treatment in the design of the subsidy program.

“It’s not selected on the basis of which premiers and states have been naughty and nice – that’s not what this is about,” Morrison told reporters in Sydney.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton accused critics of “playing politics”.

With Australia appearing likely to miss its vaccination targets this year, Miles emphasised that the Morrison Government was responsible, particularly in relation to securing sufficient supply. He said Queensland was doing what it could in Australia’s most decentralised state and had already vaccinated about 16,000 people.

“Getting that vaccine out as quickly as we possibly can is our pathway out of this thing,” Miles said.

“But the Commonwealth is ultimately responsible for the vaccine rollout, we’re supporting them where we can.”

Miles said public confidence was affected by any delays and missteps, revealing his grandmother lived adjacent to where two aged care residents were wrongly overdosed last month. He suggested the Commonwealth work with GPs and pharmacists to improve the rollout.

Queensland recorded another two cases of COVID-19 overnight, both overseas-acquired and detected in hotel quarantine, with the number of active cases now 40.

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