The New South Wales and Queensland premiers have a frosty relationship which may be contributing to tensions about border closures during the coronavirus crisis, insiders say.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and New South Wales’ Gladys Berejiklian ‘just don’t like each other’, a former political insider has told Australian Financial Review.
While many Australians have been left bewildered by the premiers seemingly turning the road map out of the COVID-19 pandemic into a ‘State of Origin-like’ game of political brinkmanship, there’s actually a history of bad blood that goes back at least three years.
The relationship reportedly soured after Ms Palaszczuk blew up when Ms Berejiklian tried to speak before the other premiers at her first Council of Australian Government meeting after she took over leadership from Mike Baird in 2017.
Traditionally, after the prime minister speaks, premiers are given the opportunity to speak in order of seniority – beginning with the person who has been in office the longest.
When Ms Berejiklian reportedly attempted to jump the queue, she was brutally shot down by Ms Palaszczuk who said: ‘That’s not how it works here.’
Ms Palaszczuk, who has been in office since 2015, should have gone before her.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and New South Wales’ Gladys Berejiklian ‘just don’t like each other’, a former political insider said (pair pictured at a Council of Australian Governments meeting on August 9, 2019)
A spokesman for Ms Palaszczuk denied the Queensland Premier had any strained relationships in government (the pair are pictured at a Council of Australian Governments meeting in Adelaide on 12 December 2018)
A spokesman for Ms Palaszczuk denied the Queensland Premier had any strained relationships in government.
He said she had ‘good relationships with her interstate colleagues’.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted both premiers for comment about the story.
The New South Wales leader has repeatedly questioned Queensland’s border policies throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Sunshine State was quick to lock down the border to stem the spread of the deadly respiratory virus, and has indicated it may not reopen for tourists until September.
Queensland is taking a $769 million tourism revenue hit for every month it stays shut.
The sunshine state was quick to lock down the border to stem the spread of the deadly respiratory virus, and has indicated it may not reopen for tourists until September
That means the state government is on track to lose more than $2 billion if it stays closed until September.
But Ms Palaszczuk previously suggested she could open borders with states who have eradicated or significantly reduced COVID-19 infections, while still keeping restrictions in place for New South Wales and Victoria.
She is facing increased calls to completely reopen her state by the July school holidays to inject much needed funds into the economy.
‘It’s not good for the economy, particularly as we go into this next school holiday season. Those tourism businesses need that support,’ Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
‘So those individual states, they’ll have to justify those decisions themselves because it wasn’t something that came out of national cabinet.’
Mr Morrison said he has never received medical advice which suggested closing state borders would be effective in beating the virus.
Traditionally after the prime minister speaks, premiers are given the opportunity to speak in order of seniority – beginning with the person who has been in office longest. Ms Berejiklian reportedly attempted to jump the queue, and was told: ‘That’s not how it works here,’ by Ms Palaszczuk, who has been in office since 2015
But he acknowledged states had sought their own medical advice, too.
Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said the state was more reliant on tourism than most others in Australia, and would hemorrhage money.
‘Tourism businesses currently have no choice and no access to international visitors, and if we also leave them with no access to interstate visitors, then they’re going to be bleeding in terms of viability and job losses for a long time.’
In spite of the mounting pressure, Annastacia Palaszczuk hit back at Ms Berejiklian and said Queenslanders will not be ‘lectured to’ about opening up their borders.
‘Let me be very clear, we are reviewing this every month. Nothing has changed,’ she said.
‘We are not going to be lectured to by a state that has the highest number of cases in Australia.
‘If you look at the federal government’s road map, they do not talk about inter-state travel until July if things are going well.’