Barnaby Joyce has criticized Annastacia Palaszczuk’s harsh border closure, saying she is on the ‘wrong side of history’.
The Premier of Queensland on Wednesday blocked people from Victoria, NSW and the ACT from moving to the Sunshine State for two weeks because Brisbane’s quarantine hotels are full and she refuses to allow home quarantine.
Joyce said the closure of the NSW-Queensland border has disrupted the lives of locals and stressed that most Australians no longer support the closure of state borders.
Barnaby Joyce (pictured) has criticized Annastacia Palaszczuk’s hard border closure, saying she is on the ‘wrong side of history’
“We were in the idiotic position at one point…where a person’s front gate was in Queensland, the house in NSW and they had to get a permit to drive out or in,” he told Sky News Australia on Thursday .
“This is the kind of madness that happens,” he said.
The deputy prime minister said the prime minister “didn’t read the tea leaves” in terms of how Australians feel about Covid-19 restrictions.
“People have moved on…where people may have been very behind and behind a few months ago, now they just want their lives back,” he said.
“The only job you have now is to work on a process to give Australia back the liberties and liberties with which all the people who voted for you were born.”
It comes after Ms. Palaszczuk announced she would move forward with her own state’s quarantine facility in Toowoomba, built by the Wagner Group, without federal support.
Construction is already underway and 500 beds will be operational by the end of the year and another 500 will be online by the first quarter of 2022.
“This will be a great boost to our defense against the Delta virus in this country and I even believe we need regional facilities across the country,” Ms Palaszczuk told reporters.
“We’ll be dealing with Delta for a while and if we want to open up Australia, we want to open up our states. Regional quarantine facilities are the second part of the answer – the first part of the answer is vaccines.”
The facility will have single, double and family rooms in cabin style accommodation with no adjacent hallways.
The state will initially lease it from the Wagners for a year, with guests brought there from Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
Deputy Prime Minister Steven Miles said arrangements for health and police personnel are still being worked out.
All virus patients will be treated at the state’s five existing COVID-19 hospitals.
Mr Miles said the facility is the first step towards replacing the hotel quarantine, which is inadequate against Delta.
“We can make sure it replaces the current use of hotel quarantine,” Miles said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Mayor Paul Antonio of Toowoomba were unaware of the Prime Minister’s announcement in advance.
“Well, I think he does now,” Mrs. Palaszczuk said.
Morrison said the federal government wouldn’t support the state’s project, but it wouldn’t stop it either.
“Having people quarantined there rather than in hotels is entirely a matter for the Queensland government,” he told reporters.
“And they made that decision, and they could have done it months ago if they wanted to.”
Ms Palaszczuk said on Wednesday that more than 5,114 people were in hotel quarantine, including 3,257 domestic arrivals, which overtaxed the system’s 22 hotels.
The hotel quarantine has been on hold for NSW, Victorian and ACT travelers for two weeks until a new system is in place, which will allocate specific rooms for travelers.
Queensland Police said people can still apply for an exemption from entering the state for the next two weeks if they have a compelling reason.
Elsewhere, about 120 Australian armed forces support police at NSW border checkpoints.
At present, only certain essential workers who have had at least one dose of vaccine are allowed to enter Queensland.
The state registered no new local cases of COVID-19 and two cases in hotel quarantine on Thursday.