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They've done a very good job: Besieged Palaszczuk finds unlikely ally in border dispute


The founder of the LNP, Lawrence Springborg, has called Labor’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic an “outstanding achievement”, in which border restrictions have played a major role in containing infections.

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Speaking to InQueensland from the border town of Goondiwindi, where he became Mayor in March this year, Springborg is confident that border closures in his community have had little impact when measured against the gains made in protecting people’s health.

“From a public health response, I think the Chief Health Officer and the Government have done a very good job,” he said.

“The fact we don’t appear to have any untraced community transmission is pretty outstanding in a population of 5 million people in a big State where we still have a lot of movement.”

The former health minister during the one-term Newman government and long-serving opposition leader, who successfully merged the Liberal and National parties in Queensland to give conservative voters a stronger force against Labor’s then domination, is adamant drought remains the biggest concern for his constituents.

His comments come as Prime Minister Scott Morrison continues to pressure State premiers to open borders in favour of a national “hotspot” definition that would restrict movement between areas of known outbreaks rather than blocking movement between States.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has labelled the PM’s conduct as “intimidating” and continues to defy calls to open the border amid the clamour of several high-profile critics ramping up the rhetoric ahead of a State election now just weeks away.

As InQueensland’s Dennis Atkins writes in this article, there’s little chance of the Premier opening the border while infection numbers remain under control and public sentiment on her side, despite the LNP Opposition arguing the restrictions are slowing the economy’s recovery.

Springborg said business operators are more confident when they have certainty. He is calling for the State Government to produce another ‘roadmap’ that will provide guidance to people for the longer term if COVID persists as a health threat.

“We would benefit from a more comprehensive roadmap about how we’re going to handle COVID-19 going into the future, given we’ve been told we’re going to have to live with it for another couple of years and maybe more,” he said.

Springborg said that while tourism and hospitality had fared badly during the pandemic, he wasn’t hearing a groundswell of opinion locally calling for borders to be reopened.

“When the border closures first took effect in April, we had the system of people holding border passes and there was no real issue with that, we didn’t really miss a beat and no one got COVID and we’re all safe and secure,” he said.

“Then we reopened the borders in July, except to Victorians, and we got some outbreaks so the border shut again, but this time with a different system that was a little more stringent.

“I completely understand why that action was taken. There were some anomalies that we needed to sort out and they were sorted quickly.

“There was major impact for a lot of people initially, particularly accessing healthcare and education and freedom of movement for agriculture, but through productive discussion that’s been resolved very quickly.

“I think businesses are now almost approaching the way things were operating prior to July 10. Most of them can go wherever they need to.

“The general consensus around here is that from a health standpoint, they’ve been very supportive of the action that’s been taken so far.”

Overseeing a $730 million economy largely underpinned by agriculture that supports a community of 11,000 people, Springborg is certain drought is the biggest concern for landholders and business operators in the region that also includes towns such as Inglewood and Texas.

“That’s number one priority and beyond the scope of any council to fix,” he said.

“But being able to make a decision very quickly that makes a positive difference to people’s lives is one of the biggest differences I’ve observed from being in State Parliament.

“We have a very talented council here and politics gets left at the door, so we just get on and get things done in the best interests of our people.”

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