Thursday, 11 June 2020
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) the Queensland Palaszczuk Labor Government closed the Queensland state border on 26 March 2020 and released a "Roadmap to easing restrictions" on 8 May 2020 indicating the border would re-open on 10 July 2020,
(ii) on 18 May 2020, Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk contradicted her Government's "roadmap" by stating "I would say that things would look more positive towards September - having said that, I do not want to rule anything out";
(b) further recognises:
(i) that, as at Tuesday 9 June, there were only three active cases, and three new cases, of COVID-19 reported in the last seven days in Queensland,
(ii) comments made by the Prime Minister on 27 May 2020 that "the national medical advice that came from the expert panel that has driven all the other decisions never recommended closing [interstate] borders" and that border closures such as these "do harm the economy, they do harm jobs and it is important that we get those removed as soon as possible",
(iii) that the income lost in the Queensland economy from the border remaining closed is estimated to be in excess of $50 million each day,
(iv) that Queensland's unemployment rate remains worse than the national average and increased greater than the national average last month; and
(c) calls on the Queensland Palaszczuk Labor Government to:
(i) provide certainty and clarity to the people of Queensland on when the state border will re-open,
(ii) instil business confidence and restore lost jobs, particularly in the industries most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent border closure, and
(iii) return to a position on re-opening the state border that more closely reflects the view as initially outlined in the "Roadmap to easing restrictions."
Thankfully, Australia has managed to contain COVID-19. States with closed borders, including Queensland, have done particularly well. We've contained COVID-19 by listening to our health experts. Queensland's Chief Health Officer, along with many of her interstate counterparts, has been clear: opening our state borders too quickly could lead to a second wave. That would be devastating for our health, our jobs and our economy. We all want Queensland borders opened, when it is safe to open them.
We all know what this motion is about. It's a political attack on a state government that is putting Queensland first. There is no motion today calling on the Liberal states of Tasmania and South Australia to open their borders. I wonder why! If the LNP actually cared about Queensland workers, they would oppose their own government's snapback of JobKeeper. They would demand their own government save Virgin. But this isn't about Queenslanders or Queensland jobs. This is a Greens-style political stunt. My Labor Party colleagues and I make no apologies for standing with Queenslanders to put Queensland first. (Time expired)