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Politician says states should be stripped of powers over Covid lockdowns and border closures

Call for states and territories to be stripped of many of their powers after Australia turns into ‘eight countries’ with Covid lockdowns and border closures

  • Terry Young told Parliament that territories should have less power, not more
  • House of Representatives to Debate ‘Restoring Territory Rights’ Bill
  • He opposed it because of the way state governments behaved during Covid
  • Swearing at state border closures and lockdowns that were inconsistent

A federal politician has called for less powers for Australian states after closing borders and imprisoning millions during the pandemic.

Liberal National MP Terry Young said the federal government should have been able to take the lead on Covid policy but was enthralled by the constitution.

“I am one of those people who would like to see the powers of states and territories reduced,” he said in the House of Representatives on Monday.

Mr. Young opposed a bill that would prevent the federal government from setting aside laws made in the ACT and Northern Territory, launching a diatribe over how states were handling the pandemic as his reasoning.

“I think one thing the pandemic certainly showed us was that Australians had the audacity to live in what they called eight countries,” he said.

Terry Young said there were people trying to work from Queensland to NSW and wanting to come back and couldn't because they had to be quarantined (pictured is the closed border between NSW and Queensland last September)

Terry Young said there were people trying to work from Queensland to NSW and wanting to come back and couldn’t because they had to be quarantined (pictured is the closed border between NSW and Queensland last September)

“With closed borders and different rules in every state when it came to who could go to work, who couldn’t go to work, who they could see, who they couldn’t see.

“We had people trying to work from Queensland to NSW and coming back and they couldn’t because they had to be quarantined. And yet they had one thing in common in their passports: they were all Australian citizens.

“I may live in Queensland, but I am an Australian citizen, and as such myself and many other Australians and Queenslanders believe we should be able to move within our country and our borders as we see fit.”

Mr Young said those people, including him, preferred Scott Morrison and his government – which was critical of long lockdowns and rapid border closures – set policy.

“They wanted the federal government to take the lead when it came to mandates over the pandemic and we were actually limited by the constitution,” he said.

“So anything that gives states and territories more powers, I’m against that.”

Mr Young railed against the fact that each state had different Covid rules and lockdowns (pictured is a woman during a mask mandate in Queensland in December)

Mr Young railed against the fact that each state had different Covid rules and lockdowns (pictured is a woman during a mask mandate in Queensland in December)

Under the Australian Constitution, states are responsible for establishing health and local police policies, giving them the power to create and enforce Covid rules.

The federal government has no power to intervene, so states largely did their own thing during the pandemic, no matter how much Morrison complained.

This meant, as Mr Young noted, that in many cases the rules were very different in every state and territory – particularly Western Australia’s long-standing hard border.

The House was debating the Restoring Territory Rights Act at the time, particularly in the context of euthanasia, which has historically been rejected by Canberra when passed by the ACT or NT.

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