Dan Andrews And Anastasia Palaszczuk Want To Slash International Arrival Numbers

The touchy subject has caused tension between state and federal leaders.

State Borders

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The Premiers of Queensland and Victoria have both said they want to slash their international arrival numbers in half, in a blow felt by Australians still stuck abroad or waiting for their loved ones to return home.

Dan Andrews and Annastacia Palaszczuk believe the outbreak of new variants are attributed to quarantine hotels, coupled with the fact that only 4 percent of the population have been fully vaccinated.

Until both blips are remedied, they want to prevent more international travellers, who could bring with them the COVID-19 Delta strain, from coming in.

There’s been conflicting information from state and federal governments over who is actually allowed in at the moment, and who would be affected by the overseas passenger halts if enacted.

Both Queensland and Victoria’s Health Ministers have implied that a large chunk of people flying in aren’t residents or citizens, but were rebuffed by Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, who said that 80 percent of people entering the country were citizens, permanent residents, or their immediate families.

“In terms of international arrivals, we would encourage every state and territory to help bring home as many Australians as possible, to bring families back together, to allow people to come home,” Hunt said on Tuesday, in a pivot from the same Government who introduced a travel ban from India only two months ago.

Palaszczuk went on the ABC’s 7.30 yesterday and told Laura Tingle she “would like to see a massive reduction” in arrivals to Australia, by between 50 to 75 percent.

“We need to do this now because we need to contain this Delta strain,” she said. She also pushed for infection control facilities to be used over hotel quarantine while announcing a snap lockdown in Queensland earlier this week.

Last Thursday, Queensland Health confirmed a woman had contracted the virus while in hotel quarantine from another positive case isolating in the same building as her.

Similarly, on Tuesday Dan Andrews announced he wanted to halve international arrivals for the next three months to prevent a fifth lockdown in his state, and allow more time for vaccination numbers to increase.

“It will be desperately sad to say ‘no, you can’t come home for [compassionate] reasons’. But if you’re coming home for those compassionate reasons makes it much more likely that there will be an outbreak, and we’ll have to lock everybody down — then you’ve got to make that tough call. The greatest good for the greatest number,” he said in a press conference.

Palaszczuk was hung out to dry for a similar moral conundrum, after an American citizen tried to visit his dying father in the Gold Coast without quarantining, and was rejected on multiple exemption attempts.

Even the Prime Minister weighed in by expressing his ‘disappointment’ over the case, before the family were eventually reunited on June 24.

While states and territories can close their borders to one another conditionally, the final call on border control lies with the Commonwealth.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews weighed in yesterday to reject the push for Federal Government leaders to reduce international arrival numbers, by pointing out that the number of intakes from Queensland is lower than NSW.

“It is actually interesting to note that, some days, Premier Palaszczuk and the Queensland State Labor Government choose to push to have people enter this state, particularly those people who are involved in film and television, who are involved in sports,” Andrews said.

“But when they have their own failure that they can’t manage, they’re very quick to jump up and down, try and blame the Commonwealth Government and then demand that borders be shut down or that caps be reduced,” she said.

She hit back at Palaszczuk specifically by saying Premier was “trying to create a distraction from [Queensland’s] own quarantine failures”, giving the example of when the state mixed low and high-risk cases together in hotels, and didn’t vaccinate a healthcare worker who contracted the virus.

“I don’t think the weekly caps should be reduced. I’ve said for many months now that we need to learn to live and to work in the COVID environment in which we find ourselves. And the first response should not be to close down our borders.”