NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has taken a subtle swipe at her interstate counterparts, saying she would appreciate if they extended the “courtesy” of consulting her before slamming their borders shut.
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Ms Berejiklian was asked her thoughts on Victoria’s decision to shut its doors to NSW over New Year’s in a move that saw thousands of people rush to the border.
Many Victorians have been left stranded north in NSW after missing the January 1 deadline to return home.
Queensland has also reintroduced its hard border measures in an effort to prevent the spread of Sydney’s virus clusters to the Sunshine State.
Ms Berejiklian said she understood the balancing act involved in making such decisions, but was frustrated at a lack of consultation and co-operation.
“I think NSW has made its position regarding borders very clear and I would simply say to other state leaders – firstly, please talk to us in NSW before you close the border because we can explain to you the situation that’s going on,” she said.
“Closing a border can affect literally, tens and hundreds of thousands of people, depending on where it is, and that’s a big call.
“And in NSW, our strategy is to try to minimise unnecessary stress on our citizens whilst obviously keeping the virus at bay.
“It‘s a difficult balance. But I just ask other state leaders to, please, talk to us before they close their border to New South Wales and give us a chance to demonstrate our capacity to get on top of the virus without adversely impacting our citizens.”
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said on Thursday he hoped to reopen the border as soon as next week.
“Hopefully settings can change fairly soon, maybe next week, maybe early next week,” he said.
“The border will be closed not one moment longer than it needs to be.”
Ms Berejiklian said when the decision was made to close NSW’s border to Victoria amid its coronavirus crisis in July she spoke “at length” with both Mr Andrews and Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
“It was a big decision for us to take and I just ask that other state premiers extend the same courtesy to New South Wales,” she said.
“Look, this is not about he said, she said, but I think it would be appropriate to have discussions before those major decisions are made.”
State leaders spoke with each other at national cabinet and health officials are in touch with interstate colleagues daily, she said.
“But at a political level, I think we should also talk to each other if there are major decisions being made about borders,” Ms Berejiklian said.
Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said all discussions with his NSW health counterparts had been productive and “collaborative”.
He said NSW has been well informed of Victoria’s movements, including Health Minister Brad Hazzard, over its decision of a hard border closure late last year.
“I am in regular contact with my NSW colleagues,” he told reporters.
“The conversations are all framed around acting on public health advice.
“It didn’t come as a shock to my NSW colleagues that after some, two weeks of community transmission across NSW, eking out from the north shore progressively for weeks, that Victoria was prepared to make the hard decisions to keep Victorians safe.“
Mr Foley said he had a phone hook-up with NSW health counterparts “every day” and when the recommendation to close the border were made he communicated that to his “interstate colleague”, Mr Hazzard.
“And then when the cabinet process finally signed off on that I alerted him (Mr Hazzard) again,” he said.
Mr Foley said he was not aware of the comments made by Ms Berejiklian.