PM’s plea for relaxed border rules
THE Prime Minister has made a personal plea to Annastacia Palaszczuk asking for "critical" border changes to stop supermarket supply chains being disrupted, farmers being hurt and preventing people getting health care.
In a letter, seen by The Courier-Mail, Scott Morrison said farming services and supply chains were at risk of being "unnecessarily or unintentionally" impeded by border restrictions.
In strong language he warned it was "critical the movement of people, products and services impacting agricultural production be as streamlined" as possible.
"The time-sensitive nature of many facets of agricultural production and supply chains directly impacts our ability to meet consumer demand for Australian products, both in supermarkets around the nation and in high-value export destinations," he wrote.
The Prime Minister is also seeking more consistent border restrictions between states, though is understood to respect the sovereignty of states to set their own borders.
It is widely expected within government that the matter could be raised in National Cabinet, while similar letters have also been sent to the Premiers of NSW, Victoria and South Australia.
A Palaszczuk Government spokesman said they had received the letters and were considering them.
It is an escalation of the issue, raised by Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, as regional communities continue to be impacted by the border lockdowns.
Mr Littleproud said as well as difficulties for farmers, he had been told stories of northern NSW cancer patients, outside the border bubble, unable to get into Queensland for treatment.
"Unless there's leadership by Annastacia Palaszczuk there will be real pressure on prices at the supermarket," Mr Littleproud said.
"But that will pale in comparison to the human toll.
"No one is asking the Premier to pull down the border restrictions, just show some compassion and common sense."
The Palaszczuk Government has consistently said its position was based on health advice and some allowances have been made in border towns.
A spokesman said freight was unaffected by border closures and exemptions were available on medical grounds.
Ms Palaszczuk on Monday also said that the Queensland borders would remain closed to Victoria and NSW until there was no active community transmission.
"We will put the safety of Queenslanders first and we do not have any intentions of opening any borders while there is community transmission active in Victoria and New South Wales," she said.
Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said they had to be "even more careful" with anyone coming into Queensland from a declared hotspot, which includes all of NSW, Victoria and the ACT.
There have been no coronavirus cases in the ACT for five weeks, but the State Government has argued the territory could be used as a backdoor by NSW residents.
On Friday Mr Morrison said there had been "some resistance" from states to a central set of rules or regulations as to when borders should close or open.
"States and territories have been very adamant about their sovereignty when it comes to who sets their borders and that is a very strong view held by all," he said.
Originally published as PM's plea for relaxed border rules