The NSW health minister has slammed premiers who threatened to keep state borders closed even when the country reaches its 80 per cent vaccination target.
Brad Hazzard warned other premiers they could not keep locking their states off to interstate travellers every time there was an outbreak.
‘We are one nation and we need to try to ensure we stay as one nation and a sense we are Commonwealth,’ he said during Sunday’s Covid briefing.
‘We are one Commonwealth and I think we have to move forward in hoping that each of those jurisdictions will do what they can to encourage the citizenry to be vaccinated so we can achieve the opening of the whole.’
The NSW health minister has slammed premiers who have threatened to keep state borders closed even when the country reaches its 80 per cent vaccination target
Mr Hazzard said premiers like Western Australia’s Mark McGowan were so committed to zero-Coivd that they used border closures as most of their strategy.
‘Some states have relied on distance so obviously you’ve got a long highway across the desert,’ he said, in a pointed reference to Mr McGowan.
‘You can put a gate across it effectively and say that’s it, and think that’s how you manage Covid. Well that’s probably not going to be the long term possibility.’
The plan agreed to by all state and territory leaders at National Cabinet was to scrap lockdowns and state border closures at 70 to 80 per cent vaccination.
However, some premiers like Mr McGowan, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews implied they would lock out NSW if it opened before its outbreak was quelled.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison this weekend confirmed the National Cabinet plan was still in effect and called on state leaders to stick to what they agreed to.
Brad Hazzard warned that premiers could not keep putting up ‘gates’ on major highways to stop interstate travellers from entering their states
Mr Hazzard said border closures were only a short-term solution, and the best chance of beating the virus was to increase vaccination rates across the country.
‘Delta has shown itself to be capable of getting into every nation and every part of every nation across the world,’ he said.
‘At some point, that will occur. I hope that we will be able to get the vaccination rates up in those jurisdictions in Australia that have not had the exposure to the virus to a great degree.’
Mr Hazzard said the states that closed their borders the hardest and most frequently had the worst vaccination rates because they relied too heavily on them.
‘I hope that we will be able to get the vaccination rates up in those jurisdictions in Australia but have not had the exposure to the virus to a great degree,’ he said.
‘That is more challenging because… they have been lulled into a false sense of security.
‘Melbourne had a long, challenging, cold, four months last year. Off the back of that, Victorians have been very keen to get vaccinated and NSW residents have had challenging times in recent weeks.
What we have seen in NSW as a result of that is normal human behaviour, that when the danger is on your doorstep, you tend to want to get vaccinated.
‘I’m hopeful that those other states that perhaps haven’t had the bigger issues will manage to convince their residents that they need to get vaccinated.
‘It is not hard to see the statistics… which states are not vaccinating a particularly fast rates and they have had the least amount of challenges so far.’
Prime minister Scott Morrison has announced that lockdowns and border closures will become a thing of the past when 80 per cent of the country is vaccinated
Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan is one of the premiers who has refused to budge on his zero-Covid stance.
‘It’s better not to have Covid than have Covid. I went through this argument all of last year,’ he said.
‘I had all the conservative commentators, Liberal MPs, National MPs saying, ‘Oh, it’s better to have Covid than not have Covid.’
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has followed suit and says he will not accept New South Wales residents until cases drop considerably. The neighbouring state announced a record 830 cases on Sunday.
‘They’ll be locked out of here. They won’t be getting in here,’ Mr Andrews said during a press conference last Sunday.
‘If you open at 80 per cent with thousands of cases, you’re going to have more people in hospital than if you open at 80 percent – as I hope to – with hopefully a very small number of cases.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk sidestepped questions whether she would reconsider lifting her tough border closures – but conceded some restrictions within her state would be eased.
‘We’re all agreed at national cabinet about reaching that 80 per cent threshold which will allow more easing of restrictions,’ she said on Monday.