Australia

Prime Minister Scott Morrison hits out at border “double standards” in Queensland

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has hit out at the Queensland Premier for “double standards” on border restrictions while on the campaign trail for the state’s election. He joined Liberal National Party leader Deb Frecklington to visit Neumann Steel at Currumbin on the Gold Coast on Saturday afternoon ahead of the Queensland election at the end…

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has hit out at the Queensland Premier for “double standards” on border restrictions while on the campaign trail for the state’s election.

He joined Liberal National Party leader Deb Frecklington to visit Neumann Steel at Currumbin on the Gold Coast on Saturday afternoon ahead of the Queensland election at the end of the month.

Mr Morrison took aim at Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk when asked to comment on a Courier-Mail report about multi-millionaire tennis executive Janyne Hrdlicka being given an exemption to hotel quarantine because her husband had cancer.

“When state governments have made those decisions that have been done in a consistent way there can’t be double standards; there needs to be a clear understanding of how these rules work,” Mr Morrison said at a press conference.

He had “no quibble” with border restrictions being put in place in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic but he said there should be transparency.

“I’m just saying that wherever possible that’s got to be clear, they’ve got to be transparent, and they’ve got to be done without double standards,” he said.

It was important to limit the economic impact of strict border restrictions, Mr Morrison told reporters.

Border restrictions should only be in place for as long as “you absolutely have to have them” and it was important medical advice was considered in the process, he said.

“They’re not something I supposed to boast of,” the Prime Minister said.

He said the longer the border restrictions were in place, the more they stopped jobs.

“I‘m not looking to pick fights with anyone in Queensland, I just want to get things done,” he told reporters.

If Ms Frecklington was elected it would help with negotiations “because we‘re going to be able to get moving”, the Prime Minister said.

But Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has defended the exemption process at a press conference on the Gold Coast on Saturday morning.

“These are very complex medical issues that the exemption team looks at,” she said on Saturday.

The Premier said it was up to medical professionals to make the decisions about which exemptions were granted. Up to 60 had been given out so far.

Ms Palaszczuk continued to back the restrictions and said her team was doing what was necessary to keep Queenslanders safe.

She said she wasn’t worried about the Prime Minister’s visit during the campaign.

“Queenslanders are smart people, they know it’s a state election … I think Queenslanders also know that there’s been one party and one government that’s been absolutely focused on protecting them and keeping them safe,” she said.

It came as she announced a $30 million package to help fund Surf Lifesaving Clubs across the state for the next four years.

Of that cash, $27 million would be borrowed and $3 million had already been committed, the Premier said.

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Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus.