Businesses are demanding a national standard for borders and lockdowns, saying they need more certainty to survive.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has joined calls for leaders to better manage border closures, saying not only people’s health but their livelihoods, jobs and mental health are also at stake.
Queensland will on Monday night end the three-day lockdown across Greater Brisbane after a cleaner tested positive with the highly infectious UK strain of coronavirus.
But Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox told Sky News that there were too many precedents being set by the states on borders and lockdowns.
“We would very much like the states to get together with the commonwealth and come up with real proper protocols,” Mr Willox said.
“The quicker business can get some certainty, and some consistency, the better.”
He said Queensland’s targeted lockdown, in comparison with Victoria’s lengthy restrictions and SA’s statewide shutdown, was probably the right approach.
But businesses were “very unhappy” that premiers and chief medical officers decided to close borders at the drop of a hat.
“It impacts on business confidence in a significant way, it sends business the very clear signal that they are the poor cousins in all of this and they’ll just have to have to tolerate whatever governments decide to do with very, very little warning.”
Ms Berejiklian also agreed that greater protocols were needed.
“When you’re closing a border, it affects all of government, it affects every single citizen,” she said.
“I think all of us (leaders) can and should be doing better.
“We should allow each other to have input in those processes rather than being told of the decision.”
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the federal government would not “override” state decisions on lockdowns because it was not their responsibility.
He told ABC RN that the number of cases a state recorded in a matter of days, not weeks, should demonstrate their ability to control an outbreak and give other jurisdictions confidence to ease border restrictions.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said domestic borders should not be in place one day longer than necessary.
He said borders came at a cost but a second or third wave of coronavirus would be a lot worse for the economy and create a lot more uncertainty for business.
“The principles are very clear; they need to be considered action, it needs to be compassionate, but it also needs to be common sense,” Mr Frydenberg told ABC.
Pressure has been mounting on the government to extend JobKeeper in the wake of jurisdictions closing their borders to NSW following its northern beaches cluster.
However, Mr Frydenberg said the government intended to conclude the program at the end of March.
“It’s not the only support measure that the government’s put in place,” he said, pointing to tourism, aviation and construction industry support.