Wednesday, 17 June 2020
COVID-19: Northern Territory
I, and also on behalf of Senators McKenzie, Canavan, Davey and McDonald, move:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) the Northern Territory (NT) Gunner Labor Government closed the NT border on Tuesday, 24th March 2020, without a plan to re-open the border, citing expert medical advice as the foundation of this decision, and
(ii) Northern Territory Leader of the Opposition and Country Liberal Party Leader, Mrs Lia Finocchiaro MLA, has asked Chief Minister Gunner on multiple occasions to explain his criteria for re-opening the border, and he has not provided an acceptable answer detailing the criteria upon which a decision will finally be made;
(b) recognises that:
(i) the last Territorian resident to have tested positive for COVID-19 was diagnosed on 6 April and there has never been an instance of community transfer of the virus in the NT,
(ii) there has been a total of 30 cases of COVID-19, all of whom recovered, and with no deaths recorded within the NT,
(iii) comments made by Prime Minister Scott Morrison 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", and
(iv) over the past four years the economy of the Northern Territory has suffered greatly under the Gunner Labor Government, with most businesses now under enormous financial stress while the NT border remains closed; and
(c) calls on the NT Gunner Labor Government to:
(i) provide certainty and clarity to the people of the NT on when the Territory border will re-open,
(ii) deliver a real plan for re-opening the border, with identifiable targets, clear criteria and structured goals, based on the expert medical advice provided by the Chief Medical Officer of Australia, and
(iii) commit to re-opening the NT border by next Monday, 22 June 2020.
As government senators know, this is a matter for states and territories. We respect their positions, and we must continue to follow the medical advice at all times. The government claims to want national unity on COVID-19, but cheap stunts like this from the government senators suggest otherwise.
Question agreed to.