Qantas is piling on the pressure for states and territories to reopen their borders with the launch of a petition calling for a common definition of a COVID-19 “hotspot” to be used when making border closures.
The “Safely Reopen Our Borders” petition calls for “decisions on domestic border closures to be risk-assessed against an agreed set of medical criteria and a shared definition of what constitutes a COVID hotspot”.
But Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles said Qantas should focus less on domestic borders and more on getting stranded Aussies home from overseas.
“These companies and their chief executives obviously have a right to further their economic interests of the companies, but the government has a responsibility first and foremost to take care of the health and the jobs of Queenslanders, and that is what we will continue to do,” Miles said.
“Can I just say, if the boss of Qantas wanted to do more and show compassion for Australians, then he wouldn’t be gouging them tens of thousands of dollars just to come home.
“He would be working with the government to get them home, rather than attacking us on the front page of the paper.
“Let’s not forget that every state has some of border restrictions in place right now.
“The NSW border is closed to Victoria. Victorians aren’t permitted to travel, so there are borders in place right around the country.
“The one thing I would agree with the Prime Minister on is I would like to see the borders opened, too, by Christmas, but only if the health advice says that that is safe, not just because of a political campaign from the LNP, not just because it is what Scott Morrison wants.
“I want to see them open, too, but only if the health advice says it is safe.”
Qantas group CEO Alan Joyce has been pushing for domestic borders to reopen for weeks, saying that a national framework for domestic borders would deliver “clarity and consistency”.
“At the moment, there are no rules around how borders are going to close and going to open,” he said last month at the airline’s FY20 results meeting.
“Nobody has an issue with the international borders being closed – that’s protected Australia. Nobody’s had an issue with the borders to Victoria being closed. But it’s very clear that we don’t have clear guidelines for when the borders will open, when they will close.”