PM to crack whip on border closures
Scott Morrison will urge the states to "get practical" about border closures at the National Cabinet on Friday amid growing complaints of families being refused medical treatment and denied the right to travel interstate to relocate for new jobs.
After finalising a road map for borders to reopen earlier this year in July, the plan went out the window after coronavirus cases spiked in Victoria.
At Friday's talks between state premiers and the Prime Minister, the federal government will urge leaders to stick to the medical advice and resist the politics.
"Well we've got to be practical about these things, and we've got to act on medical advice and that has to be transparent,'' the Prime Minister said this week.
"The suppression strategy is to ensure we get no community transmission. I think what's been demonstrated, particularly in NSW, is that outbreaks can be addressed and they've got another challenge at the moment, but the cases have come right down there.
"I'm pleased that we are turning the corner in Melbourne and Victoria. But you know, people have got to get access to medical treatment. I mean we fund hospitals, and Medicare, and services all around the country so Australians wherever they live, can get to those services.
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Qantas CEO Alan Joyce warned on Thursday that politics was driving the decisions rather than medical advice and hundreds of jobs would be lost as a result.
"When you have states with zero cases closing their borders to states with zero cases, there doesn't seem to be any medical reason or health reason or any logical reason for those to remain closed," Mr Joyce told Sky News.
"When do borders close? Because they may have to close again in the future. When do they open? And at the moment it doesn't seem to be medically or scientifically based.
"It seems to be more politically driven."
The Prime Minister said on Thursday that some progress was being made on individual cases but more needed to be done.
"I mean, I am making some real progress, I mean I appreciate the work we've been doing with Premier Marshall with a lot of those cross-border issues, particularly for medical needs,'' he said.
"Premier Berejiklian, we've been getting some good movement on agricultural workers, shearers and others having to do various work and so on. We just need to be practical about it and ensure that we only need to do what is needed, and that we're obviously concerned about the spread of the virus, but we've also got to look at the medical evidence of what's occurring on the ground."
But Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk slammed Health Minister Greg Hunt's call for her to act with "common decency" on border closures and urged him to start acting on aged care deaths.
Ms Palaszczuk, who faces the polls on October 31, was responding to Mr Hunt's calls for Queensland to allow regional NSW residents to access medical treatment where it was closer.
"I'm showing a lot of decency," Ms Palaszczuk said.
"It's about time Greg Hunt focuses on aged care and issues in Victoria and stops trying to raise every other issue about Queensland."
Aged care will again be a major focus of Friday's talks amid growing complaints the Prime Minister is not taking full responsibility for the COVID crisis in Victoria's nursing homes.
National cabinet will also be briefed on the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis by Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe and the Treasury secretary Steven Kennedy.
Originally published as PM to crack whip on border closures