Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk

Border closure has turned into total farce

It's all about timing.

For months on end, Gold Coasters called for Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to reopen the state's borders, as businesses and residents alike struggled and suffered under the half-life of pandemic restrictions … even as the Covid curve was crushed.

And now, just 15 days after that border was finally - if not completely - opened, some of us who were most vocal in demanding free passage of travel are wondering whether we shouldn't shut up shop yet again as the virus flares in Victoria and beyond.

The problem for the Premier is that by responding so slowly to the Southeast's request for an end to the border blockade, she's made it much harder to now act in a timely manner and close it again.

The irony of course is that for the vast bulk of the time that the Queensland Government refused to open the border, the risk of viral spread was almost nil. There were no spikes in any states, no community transmission, just cases literally flown in from overseas.



Police check cars at the Queensland border with NSW at Stuart Street in Coolangatta. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Steve Holland
Police check cars at the Queensland border with NSW at Stuart Street in Coolangatta. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Steve Holland



By the time the Premier succumbed to justified community pressure, the landscape had changed. By July 10, the writing was on the wall that coronavirus was back, down south at least, with a vengeance.

And yet our own border town had been crushed by restrictions for so long - for too long - that there was no politically correct way to back down.

So now we've opened ourselves up to a state of confusion.

The State Government has now warned Queenslanders to rethink travel plans to NSW, with Health Minister Steven Miles saying authorities are continuing to closely monitor the situation in Victoria and NSW.

It comes as another 200,000 NSW residents will be banned from entering Queensland, with the state government widening its list of coronavirus hot spots amid continuing community transmission interstate.

Travellers from the NSW cities of Campbelltown, Liverpool and Fairfield, as well as anyone from Victoria, remain banned from entering Queensland.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young has warned that further NSW hot spots may be declared at short notice if community transmission continues to increase in NSW.

Look at how many people can't cross the border right now, why are we still continuing with this farce?

The simplest, safest and most sensible option would be to (temporarily) move the border south of Pottsville and close the gates.




Let the people of northern NSW - who effectively operate within Queensland in terms of business, schooling and infrastructure access - stay within the safety of our state, even if for just as long as this crisis may last. (Personally, I would love to see that arbitrary line moved south permanently but let's cross that border when we come to it.)

Premier Palaszczuk waited too long to reopen the borders to begin with, let's not compound that mistake by delaying in the other direction. Two wrongs don't make a right. But they can equal disaster, both for the political players and our own city, stranded in a no-man's land.



Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Picture: David Clark.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Picture: David Clark.

Look, there is no easy path to navigate through this unprecedented pandemic, but success lies in the ability to be flexible and responsive.

The state's stubborn refusal to open our borders at a time when it was safe, has left us exposed at a time when risk is intensifying.

Already, Gold Coast schools are preparing for another stint of online learning. Perhaps it's an overabundance of caution, but it is dishearteningly necessary nevertheless.

We've only just started to taste the freedoms of a state back in action, we don't want to lose that. Not for the sake of our physical, mental or economic health.

I would hate to see our border close yet again, both for what it represents for this country's Covid journey and for the destruction it causes to businesses and residents.

But the alternative could be so much worse. And if our state leaders could see sense and let our city continue to operate as one by moving that imaginary border line, we could truly minimise the damage.

The key is to act now.

Timing is everything.

Originally published as Border closure has turned into total farce