Tensions rise as border closures divide residents
AS TENSIONS between NSW and Queensland grow amid border closures, those caught in the middle have urged politicians to think about public safety first and foremost.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has warned borders may be closed until September, due to concerns about the number of cases in southern states, but Wallangarra farmer Don Thomas says its for the best.
"I don't think it's made one iota of difference," he said.
"My son is a shearer and had to cross the border to do some work and had no hassle at all. It's just an issue of a pass on a windscreen.
"I don't know why anyone with legitimate reasons would get angry."
Mr Thomas also had a niece who worked in Tenterfield and lived in Wallangarra, moving backwards and forwards daily with no problems, other than not being able to see her uncle due to a risk of spreading the virus.
Used to the isolation of life on a property, Mr Thomas said those in uproar were only endangering the wellbeing of their neighbours.
"My first thought is why are people angry - they're trying to save your lives," he said.
"Those people are very selfish people. The government, both federal and state, are doing everything to keep people alive, so why are spoilt brats being angry about that?."
State MP James Lister said it wasn't those in Wallangarra who lived next to a crossing he was worried about, but residents who had to travel hundreds of thousands of miles to get to one.
"I know of people in Goondiwindi who have had to do 200km round trips to their paddocks on the other side of the border," he said.
"The border closure has been an important part in our success in containing coronavirus, but it has been a very painful thing for people in the border areas of my electorate from Killarney to Goondiwindi and beyond.
"As soon as expert medical advice indicates, I want the border to be reopened because the closure has severed many people's important economic connections and severely hurt farmers, mum-and-dad small businesses and workers' jobs."
Mr Lister feared the state government would postpone the reopening more than was necessary.
"My concern is that the Palaszczuk government will delay and bungle the path to reopening, because they have bungled many previous coronavirus decisions to our disadvantage in Southern Downs," he said.
"We've seen the failure to open and staff enough border checkpoints for ambulances and people with border passes, the extended closure of schools on the say so of unions rather than medical advice, the heavy-handed closure of gun shops, and the bush-only ban on fishing."
Queensland's deputy premier Steven Miles said the borders would remain closed only until the state's health officials said they could open.
"We know Sydney can be dreary but hang in there," he said.
The growing unease comes after NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said borders should open "the sooner the better".
"I've quietly (been) having a gibe at all of my state colleagues who have their borders shut," she told Sky News.
"NSW didn't, Victoria didn't,"
"We appreciate that the key to our economic success will be to improve our supply chains and our manufacturing base among Australia so you do need to get those borders open as soon as possible in my view."