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Premier reveals internal party brawl over keeping borders closed

Politics

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has revealed the depth of division within her government over Queensland’s controversial border closures, claiming she suffered major resistance to the blockade from within her own party despite there now being “a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel”.

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Urging all Queenslanders to get a jab when vaccinations are rolled out later this month, she said mass vaccinations were vital in order to “get back to how life was.”

But she said she could not rule out further snap lockdowns or border closures that had caused the internal fractures.

Palaszczuk said some of her own inner circle attacked her decision to close Queensland’s borders and keep them shut, adding to the intense pressure she faced from Prime Minister Scott Morrison, outspoken senior members of the federal government, other state premiers and industry leaders.

Speaking at Griffith University’s conversation series at Home of the Arts on the Gold Coast, Palaszczuk told interviewer Kerry O’Brien the internal dissent over her border decision was one of the hardest things she had to deal with during the pandemic.

“Everybody attacking me, yelling at me, demanding that I do something that I knew was not the right thing to do, and I stood my ground,” Palaszczuk said.


Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk with Kerry O’Brien.

“It was about keeping our border closed at a time when everybody was demanding it be open, but we could have had what Victoria had in terms of a second wave.

“There were many in my own party who did not agree with me. It wasn’t just one side of politics, it was a lot of sides of politics, and it was a lot of people.

“It was very tough, but I stood my ground.”

She said the heaviest criticism she faced pointed to the effect the border closures were having on the Queensland economy, including the devastating impact on sectors such as tourism that have been crippled by the loss of domestic and international visitors.

“I know that there were people in the party, in the bureaucracy, right across the board who were concerned with the stand that I was taking and the impact that was having on industries,” Palaszczuk said.

“So when you’re up against all that pressure, from not just outside but from within, and you stand your ground and you get through it, at the end of the day I’m very proud of where we are.”

She said that all Queenslanders should get the vaccine, when rollout begins later this month.

“If [Chief Health Officer] Dr [Jeannette] Young said to me it was safe to get it, I’m going to get it and I think everyone else should as well,” she said.

“Queenslanders have done everything that we have asked them to do during this pandemic. We would not be in the situation that we are today if Queenslanders had not stepped up every single time during the pandemic, whether that be having to close businesses, having to stay home, not be able to see relatives, not be able to go to church,” she said.

“Our whole world was turned upside down. And now, as the Chief Health Officer said to me, she said, ‘Premier I can see light at the end of the tunnel. I can see a way out of this pandemic with a vaccine.’”

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