A federal minister has accused Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk of “scaremongering” after she raised concerns about the impacts of COVID-19 on children.
The remark was the latest attack from the federal government towards state leaders who are hesitant to reopen their borders when vaccinations reach 80 per cent.
On Wednesday, Palaszczuk called for more research into what will happen to the zero to 12-year-olds who will remain unvaccinated when that goal is reached.
“Unless there is an answer on how these young people are going to be vaccinated, you are putting this most vulnerable population at risk,” she told state parliament.
“Anyone who has grandchildren or young children or nephews or nieces knows how that plays on people’s minds.”
She said that if the state is opened and the virus is let in, “every child under 12 is vulnerable – every single child”.
“Every child from zero to 12 is vulnerable because they are the unvaccinated. Until I can get answers on that, we will stand firm and we will stand strong.”
— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) September 1, 2021
The Minister for Home Affairs, Karen Andrews hit back at the Premier during a doorstop interview on Wednesday afternoon.
“The federal government is of the view that Queensland should be open,” Andrews said, according to The Guardian.
“It is difficult to understand what the Queensland Premier is trying to achieve. We have had a range of statements from her over the last couple of days, if not weeks, if not months, that quite frankly have not made a lot of sense.
“The Queensland premier is quite clearly doubling down on her ‘let’s keep Queensland closed’.”
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Andrews also accused Palaszczuk of “scaremongering”.
“Clearly everyone is concerned about Australia’s children, but there is no country in the world that is vaccinating anyone under 12 years of age,” Andrews said.
“It’s also very clear that the best way to protect our children is to make sure that we, as adults, are vaccinated.”
The Home Affairs Minister said Queenslanders have made it clear that they want their borders open.
“It is really time that the Queensland premier starts to focus on how she is going to reopen Queensland and not take every available opportunity to shut Queensland down,” she said, according to news.com.au.
Andrews statements echo Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s attack on Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan on Monday.
McGowan has previously said WA may stay in lockdown even after vaccine rates hit 80 per cent, citing a low rate of Indigenous vaccination in the state.
“That’s why we agreed at National Cabinet level that we’d be able to put restrictions in within states even if we got to 70 or 80 per cent,” he said.
“That was the national agreement.”
Frydenberg hinted that the federal government may stop providing WA with economic support if McGowan doesn’t stick to the plan laid out by the National Cabinet and open up once vaccination rates reach 70 or 80 per cent.
“I know first hand there are a number of West Australian tourism businesses that are struggling. That is why we agreed to a package of economic support in partnership with the McGowan government for the tourism industry in Western Australia because the border closures and lockdowns have hurt them,” Frydenberg said during a Monday morning appearance on Sunrise.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday that while he understands that WA wants to be cautious, he reiterated his stance that borders do not stop the Delta variant.
“People think that borders protect people from COVID. Well, no, I’m sorry, the Delta variant is stronger than borders, and the best protection is getting vaccinated,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly has extended the current hotspot in the ACT until 17 September for the purpose of prolonging Commonwealth support.
Kelly said infectious cases in the community still pose an ongoing threat to the community and urged the ACT to continue to follow health advice.
The pause on trans-Tasman bubble flights between Australia and New Zealand has also been extended, due to the federal government’s concerns over the continued increase in locally acquired cases of the Delta variant.
Featured image source: Facebook/annastaciamp