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Pencil it in: Queensland border set to finally reopen in July, but not before

Politics

Ahead of a crucial National Cabinet meeting, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk agrees the earliest opportunity for border restrictions to be lifted is July.

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In Parliament on Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the border restrictions were also weighing down the aviation sector, as Virgin administrators called for the embattled airline to be given more support.

“If you want to see planes flying around Australia, we need to open up these domestic borders,” Morrison said.

Queensland has offered financial backing to help Virgin survive but Morrison suggested paying passengers were more important than his government stumping up funds as well.

“If we’re concerned about Virgin employees, it is very important that we open up the domestic borders in this country,” he said.

Morrison called on the states to set a date for borders to reopen in July and Palaszczuk today said that was still on the agenda.

“There is no dissent on this – he has said July, I have said July,” Palaszczuk said, referring to a possible mid-July easing of Queensland border restrictions.

“It’s in the roadmap, it is there very clearly.”

National Cabinet will discuss the epidemiology, and how the virus might spread if domestic border restrictions are eased, at tomorrow’s meeting. That will lead to Queensland making a decision by the end of June – if not before.

Palaszczuk said her concern had always been the potential for community transmission in other states to result in travellers bringing the virus to Queensland. While the NSW situation has improved, Victoria still has cases of community transmission – including someone who had attended a Black Lives Matter protest.

Queensland has had few new cases of COVID-19 this month. On Thursday morning, the tally rose to 1,063, after one additional case, with four of those active.

Palaszczuk said she did not regret having earlier speculated on a September timeframe for the borders to reopen.

“Back then, the evidence was there was a lot more community transmission that was happening in Victoria and NSW at the time,” Palaszczuk said.

In a press conference, Palaszczuk declined several opportunities to nominate a likely date for borders to reopen fully. She said she had not received the health advice to National Cabinet.

“June is Queensland open for Queenslanders,” Palaszczuk said.

“July will definitely see more of Queensland opening up as well. July is going to be a very good month for Queensland.”

Palaszczuk said within Queensland, she wanted to further ease restrictions, after InQueensland reported the frustrations of families who normally have kids at boarding school.

“We want to get those boarding schools operating as quickly as possible,” she said.

In Canberra, Labor’s transport spokeswoman Catherine King dismissed Morrison’s concerns about borders, saying the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme needed to be extended beyond September.

A move to extend JobKeeper to university workers failed in the Senate on Wednesday evening.

With AAP

 

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