Premier declares truce in political war with Canberra, just not yet
Just an hour after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk declared the political bickering with the federal government over the handling of the pandemic should stop, her deputy has ratcheted up the attack.
Deputy Premier Steven Miles speaking in parliament. (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt)
Deputy Premier Steven Miles backed in the premier’s claim that “the federal government want to give Queenslanders COVID for Christmas”.
Queensland’s deputy premier has blamed the recent confusion over PCR testing costs on “Scott Morrison’s cynical politics” an hour after the premier tried to bury the hatchet.
Ms Palaszczuk struck a conciliatory note on Thursday after a six-day feud over who would fork out for PCR tests needed by fully vaccinated domestic travellers to enter Queensland once 80 per cent of residents are fully vaccinated.
The spat ended on Tuesday when federal Health Minister Greg Hunt clarified tests for domestic travel would be free after the state confirmed it would accept a text message as proof of a result.
Palaszczuk then claimed the “federal government wanted to give Queenslanders COVID for Christmas” on Wednesday, moments after saying border “politics has to stop”.
On Thursday morning the premier waved away a questions about the spat, saying she had addressed the matter.
“I look forward to working co-operatively with the federal government,” she told reporters in Cairns.
But an hour later Miles backed in her comments, suggesting the state’s plan to open before Christmas had been partly due to federal pressure.
“They have been insistent throughout the whole year really calling for the borders to be opened,” Mr Miles said.
“The practical effect of opening the borders is the virus will come here.”
He accused federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg of adding to confusion by saying the Commonwealth wouldn’t pay for $150 tests without mentioning the free tests in numerous media interviews.
A federal government spokesperson told AAP they had assumed the state would ask travellers for PCR certificates, rather than free tests, because they were only talking about a $150 cost.
Miles claimed the episode was a deliberate strategy by Prime Minister Scott Morrison as part of their federal election strategy.
“Their focus very clearly is on their own re-election,” the deputy premier told reporters in Brisbane.
“And if you look at their behaviour and the way that they’ve engaged with us, you should see it all through the prism of Scott Morrison’s cynical politics.”
As the state prepares to scrap quarantine for vaccinated domestic travellers, possibly within two weeks, Palaszczuk defended a decision earlier this week to delay banning unvaccinated people from venues until December 17.
Originally the plan was to implement the ban once the state hits 80 per cent vaccination coverage, or December 17 at the latest.
The premier said setting a clear date, rather than a floating date, would make it easier for businesses to plan.
However, she was unable to provide any further information on the testing requirements for NSW border-zone travellers once the 80 per cent target is hit.
Currently, vaccinated Queenslanders and NSW border-bubble zone residents are allowed to cross for the essential purposes of work, healthcare, volunteering, caregiving or education without any test requirements.
Palaszczuk said the proposed border-zone rules were still being considered without indicating when they would be announced.
The latest figures show 85.01 per cent of eligible Queenslanders have had one vaccine dose, with 74.07 per cent fully vaccinated.
Queensland recorded no new local cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and three new cases in unvaccinated Victorians in hotel quarantine.