Queenslanders are looking at the potential of state borders being closed until the state reaches 90% double vaccination rates as Labour is looking at the policy change.
The policy speculation is on the back of the Queensland premier following a similar policy as Western Australia in maintaining a covid zero policy in the community.
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From cairns post 21.09.21
There is no denying that Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has been very successful so far in “keeping Queenslanders safe” through the global Covid-19 pandemic. There is also no denying this success has translated into political popularity.
If a state election were held today there is little doubt Ms Palaszczuk and her Labor Party would be returned with an even greater majority than they were 11 months ago (with a comfortable five-seat majority on the back of a 53-47 two-party preferred vote).
With the two big southern states locked down now for months while we in Queensland enjoy almost-normal freedoms, you could comfortably assume the incumbent government would be even further ahead now.
Obviously, that is moot because our fixed-terms model means the next election is set for October 26, 2024. But politicians always keep one eye on the opinion polls, no matter what they might publicly say.
That being the case, when viewed solely through a political lens there is zero political reason the Premier would take any chances when it comes to Covid-19. The longer Queensland can remain free of the virus that has ravaged the rest of the world, the better things will be politically for the politician that Ms Palaszczuk is.
Little wonder, then, that Labor insiders are now actively briefing out the idea of shifting to 90 per cent the current 80 per cent (of the eligible population fully vaccinated) trigger for our state border to be reopened, and for region-wide lockdowns being taken off the table.
Such a move would – politically – make sense. Internal Labor polling is understood to be – unsurprisingly – showing a massive spike in how much Queenslanders now value their freedoms as the situation in NSW and Victoria reach the point of no-return.
Keeping the border closed to those virus-ridden southerners has therefore quickly become just about the biggest no-brainer that history has ever gifted to a populist Queensland premier.
As we report today, Queensland could hit 80 per cent of our over-16 population double-jabbed as soon as November 12 – coincidentally the same day the nation is due to reach that milestone. Under the national cabinet agreement struck prior to the NSW and Victoria outbreaks, that would trigger all border restrictions to be dropped – and lockdowns deemed to be a measure of last resort, and then only imposed at a localised level.
But – and this is the point the Premier has been, perhaps a little clumsily, making – that agreement was struck when there were no Covid cases in Australia. Opening up the nation now would be a totally different ballgame, as it would all but ensure outbreaks within days right across Queensland.
In that context, you can understand why those political operatives working for a naturally risk-averse Premier whose entire focus is on Covid are flying a kite around the lifting of the 80 per cent threshold for our state to reunify with the rest of Australia.
The Premier is still publicly saying it is still too early to speculate on what might happen at 80 per cent. After all, that milestone remains at least seven or eight weeks away. In the meantime, she repeats whenever asked: “We are waiting on updated Doherty Institute modelling before we can make those decisions.”
We understand that living a life free from Covid is a glorious thing. Being able to turn up to a full Suncorp Stadium is wonderful. As is having a dinner out with friends or family, or just the simple pleasure of a pint at the pub with your mates.
But we can’t shut ourselves off from the world indefinitely.
And yet there are two statistics that worringly indicate this could be the reality if the government does decide to shift to 90 per cent.
The first is that 90 per cent of people aged over 16 in Australia (the standard benchmark for Covid jab rates) equates to 72 per cent of the entire population. Just 13 nations have so far managed Covid jab rates that high. The UK is stuck at 66 per cent, Canada 70 per cent, and the United States 54 per cent.
Even more worrying is that the threshold would have to be hit both in Queensland and nationally – and 13.4 per cent of Queensland adults are still saying they are unwilling to be vaccinated against Covid. Across Australia, that rate is at 9.4 per cent. There is a real chance our Covid jab rates will never top 90 per cent.
All that being the case, it looks – sadly – prudent for Queenslanders to delay making any plans for an interstate Christmas holiday.