In a bold new plan to get Australia’s tourism sector moving again, the Morrison government could be considering a micro-travel bubble that would allow Australians living in NSW and Victoria to travel to New Zealand – before being able to enter Queensland.
The move to allow certain states to travel across the Tasman comes as Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk stands firm on keeping her state border closed, pointing to September as a possible reopening.
Appearing on Channel 9’s Today show, Pauline Hanson said the decision to keep Queensland’s borders closed was “ridiculous” and leaving businesses “hanging by their fingernails”.
“The medical health officer we have here (Queensland), Jeanette Young, I don’t know where she is coming from, and she is leading Annastacia Palaszczuk along this path of keeping the borders closed,” Ms Hanson said.
“She said tourists, get prepared because the scenario is possibly September. How ridiculous is that. We have got businesses going under. They are hanging on by their fingers nails.”
Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham wants Australia’s tourism industry to start clawing back at the lost billions during the COVID-19 pandemic – with or without the support from the sunshine state.
“If New Zealand and some Australian states are ready and willing to progress, then the reluctance of other states to open up their domestic borders shouldn’t become an obstacle to progress,” Mr Birmingham told the publication.
“The recovery of jobs and small businesses in some states shouldn’t be held back by the decisions of other state governments.”
Members of the Palaszczuk government announced last week that despite NSW opening their state up to domestic travel from June 1, they would not be following Gladys Berejiklian’s lead.
“We won’t be lectured to on the worst-performing state in Australia,” Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey said on Thursday.
“There were 33 times the number of active cases in NSW compared to Queensland.
“NSW needs to get its act together and get community transmission down, and we will all be better off throughout this nation, including in Queensland.”
The state’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jeannette Young has argued that Queensland borders should remain closed as just one coronavirus case could take the state back to square one.
“This is not the time for tourists to travel to Queensland,” she said on Thursday.
“If the tourist industry wants a realistic scenario, then they should be preparing for September.”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that travel will be allowed by June 1, along with 50 patrons in pubs, clubs and restaurants as part of their plan to get the economy moving.
In addition, Victoria’s state premier Daniel Andrews has announced they will further ease coronavirus restrictions from June 1, reopening parks and allowing up to 20 people to gather at once.
Restaurants and cafes will be allowed to seat and serve more customers, but bars serving alcohol without food must remain closed and people are encouraged to continue working from home when possible.
As for travel within the state, Victorians will now be able to Travel to holiday homes and other private residences from June 1.
Tourist accommodation such as caravan parks and camping grounds can open, but there can be no use of communal facilities such as kitchens and bathrooms.