InQueensland

NEWS •⁠ POLITICS •⁠ BUSINESS •⁠ CULTURE

Get InQueensland in your inbox Subscribe

Only one state refuses to open borders by Christmas (and it isn't Queensland)

Politics

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has  convince all states but Western Australia in aiming to take down borders by Christmas.

Print article

National Cabinet’s other state and territory leaders had agreed with the “ambition” to ease restrictions and return to a new normal by December, Morrison said.

The Federal Government has been applying pressure to states and territories to sign up to a national standard for defining coronavirus hotspots.

Morrison said states and territories had failed to reach full agreement on a three-step reopening plan, flagging a move away from a consensus-based decision-making model in National Cabinet.

The prime minister is changing the rules and lowering expectations of national cabinet after chairing a fortnightly meeting of premiers and chief ministers.

“We’ve decided this notion of 100 per cent absolute consensus on any issue is not a way the national cabinet can indeed work,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Friday.

“What we will do is we will set out areas where we can come together, and get as many states and territories as possible to come around that agreement.

“Not everyone has to get on the bus for the bus to leave the station. But it is important the bus leaves the station, and we all agree on that.”

State border closures dominated the national cabinet meeting as the Commonwealth pushed for a national definition of a coronavirus hotspot.

Premiers and chief ministers agreed to pursue a consistent model, but refused to endorse a definition provided by the country’s acting chief medical officer.

“There will be further discussion on how that can be more specifically defined,” Morrison said.

“This will take some time to get that right.”

States have total control over who crosses their borders but the Commonwealth is cranky it carries the lion’s share of the economic cost.

Morrison also asked premiers and chief ministers to endorse a national agricultural code to allow seasonal workers to travel over state lines.

Five out of eight jurisdictions signed up, but Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania declined.

All states and territories except Western Australia also pledged to reach the third and final stage of easing business restrictions by Christmas.

As well, the national cabinet agreed to relax the weekly limit on stranded Australians returning home from overseas each week.

There are more than 23,000 Australians abroad who want to return, a third of them in India.

The Federal Government has imposed a weekly cap of 4000 international passengers to ease the burden on state hotel quarantine systems.

Premiers and chief ministers will look to ease the burden on NSW, which is doing most of the heavy lifting.

Australia’s coronavirus death toll has passed 700 after Victoria announced 59 new deaths.

Fifty of the deaths occurred in July and August but were only reported on Friday.

There have now been 737 deaths from coronavirus across the country.

National cabinet was also briefed by the Bureau of Meteorology on the upcoming high-risk weather season, which is likely to bring bushfires and cyclones.

-AAP

More Politics stories

Loading next article