Calls for regional Queensland COVID-19 border controls intensify
THE CALLS for a North Queensland border closure to halt the spread of COVID-19 to the regions is beginning to sound more like a choir with four federal parliamentarians joining the cause.
Yesterday, Livingstone Shire Mayor Bill Ludwig and Keppel MP Brittany Lauga led the charge with representations to the Premier requesting separation measures be taken.
A letter sent today called for urgent consideration for shutting North Queensland's borders except for personnel associated with essential services and essential industries was signed by Capricornia MP Michelle Landry, Dawson MP George Christensen, Herbert MP Phillip Thompson, and Senator for Queensland Matt Canavan.
Ms Landry said her office had received a vast number of emails and calls from concerned people.
"People in Capricornia have expressed to me that if COVID-19 continues to spread, they are afraid for the welfare of Queenslanders in remote communities and their access to medical resources," she said.
"I believe if we shut the borders down to non-essential personnel and non-essential industries, we will have a better chance at halting the spread of COVID-19."
Senator Canavan said he supported the Queensland Government's decision to close the border to New South Wales but the establishment of further regional restrictions was required.
"Given the relative few cases in North Queensland, the same logic dictates that we should stop the spread going to North Queensland too," Mr Canavan said.
"Western Australia is already moving to restrict travel between regions and Queensland should do the same."
Mr Canavan said the measures would protect vulnerable agricultural and mining industries and indigenous communities.
The contingent suggested a North Queensland 'border' could be defined as it is under the Commonwealth Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility Act which includes all local government areas that intersect with the Tropic of Capricorn and the Gladstone Regional Council area.
Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan, and leader of the North Queensland First party, was also on board.
He said he would like to see three east west quarantine points, the first just north of Gympie, the second at Granite Creek near Miriam Vale and the third at Marlborough, north of Rockhampton.
Yesterday, Katter's Australia Party leader Robbie Katter also called for closures of regional Queensland areas.
At a press conference this morning, Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk hinted that further region closures were on the table but were not yet being considered.
"What you will see from Queensland over the coming weeks and months, is that you may see communities or areas that will have more lockdown provisions in their regions," she said.
"We are not at that stage yet, I am very comfortable where we are."