Aussies in two towns say they their communities are being torn apart and suffering major downturns because of a controversial border closure.
Aussies in two towns say they their communities are being torn apart and suffering major downturns because of a controversial border closure.

‘Absolute joke’: Towns suffer 79 days of pain

It has been 79 days since the Queensland Premier closed the state's border with NSW, and towns on both side of the divide are feeling the pain with every passing day.

Sky News Australia spoke to locals from Tweed Heads in NSW and Coolangatta in Queensland who blasted the closure as "ridiculous" and an "absolute joke".

In a special episode broadcast from the state border, Sky host Paul Murray said people were lining up to talk to Sky News to vent their frustrations in Tweed Heads.

Over the border in Coolangatta, a fish and chip shop owner said 75 per cent of his trade comes from tourists.

A coffee kiosk operator said he's lost 40 per cent of his regular customers who used to come across the border daily. A hotel owner said his hotel is running at just 10 per cent capacity.

Queensland’s border remains closed until at least July. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Queensland’s border remains closed until at least July. Picture: Nigel Hallett

Steve Archdeacon who runs Cafe Dbar in Coolangatta said usually people from all over Australia come to visit his cafe, but he's now operating at about 30 per cent capacity.

He said the two towns together are a "very tight-knit" community and many of his staff members - who he has now had to lay off - came from across the border to work each day.

"I'm disgusted, I moved up from Sydney here to Tweed Heads to be near the border," one Tweed Heads local said.

"It's one Australia and at the end of the day there shouldn't be hard state borders."

Another NSW resident said he crossed the border to Queensland before the closure and now he's trapped there. He said he's resorted to living in a caravan park for two months.

Mr Murray argued thousands of jobs have been lost and businesses are at risk because of the closure.

He argued the border should open on July 1 to give time for any potential transmissions from the Black Lives Matter protests to surface.

"We can reopen this country on July 1, but hiding behind medical advice and bureaucrats instead of people are suffering from these decisions is wrong," he said.

Queensland Senator Amanda Stoker told the show the Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk "needs to get serious" on reopening the border.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says the federal government and her government are on the same page. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says the federal government and her government are on the same page. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England

"I'd like to see those borders open up today," she said. "But at the very least set a date."

She said the Premier has a "knee to the throat" of Queenslanders suffering due to uncertainty over the border.

Ms Palaszczuk has refused to reverse her decision to keep the borders closed, saying she's keeping Queenslanders safe.

She has flagged a potential September reopening, however, this is under a monthly review and could be pushed forward.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also accused the Palaszczuk government of ignoring an earlier agreement to open to interstate travel in July. He said there was no medical advice to support their extended closure.

Former Speaker of the House, Bronwyn Bishop, told Sky News the federal government needs to force states to open their borders.

However, Queensland Senator Matthew Canavan disagreed, saying the federal government too often has tried to take over state responsibilities.

"They should be held to account by their own people to uphold those responsibilities properly," he said. "It's a slippery slope once the federal government gets involved."

Instead, he said the state government needs to stop its "ridiculous charade" which he claims is playing a game with peoples' lives.

Scott Morrison has been pushing for interstate borders to open up in July, pressuring Premiers to commit to a date to help the struggling tourism and aviation industries.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called for domestic borders to be reopened. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called for domestic borders to be reopened. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

"We need to get planes flying around Australia," Mr Morrison told parliament today.

"If you want to see planes flying around Australia, we need to open up these domestic borders."

However, Ms Palaszczuk says her government and Mr Morrison's government are on the same page and the borders will open in July.

"I have said very clearly that in stage three we are looking at what interstate travel can be allowed," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"We are at one on this in terms of July. There is no dissent on this. He has said July, I have said July."

Last month Ms Palaszczuk indicated the borders could remain closed until September, a few months after stage three came into effect.

Ms Palaszczuk said today she did not regret her comments.

"Back then the evidence was there was a lot more community transmission that was happening in New South Wales and Victoria at the time," she said.

"New South Wales has done a great job of getting that under control but I will always put the health of Queenslanders first."

"I make no apology for putting the health of Queenslanders first."

 

 

Originally published as 'Absolute joke': Town's 79 days of pain


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