Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has been accused of having “no idea” about why she’s keeping the borders closed, with a retail industry body accusing the state leader of “destroying business” and being “irrational”.
The comments come as another High Court challenge is being flagged against the constitutional right of the Queensland government to keep the state’s borders closed.
School students, workers and freight drivers can enter the state without an issue, but Queensland is closed to anyone else because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are arguing that the Queensland government did not have the constitutional right to shut the border,” Mahoneys litigation partner Mitchell Downes said in a statement on the firm’s website.
He said the move was part of a wider effort to help Queensland’s tourism industry recover from the effects that COVID-19 had on the industry and businesses and people that rely on it.
A gofundme page has been set up to fund the challenge and allow the plaintiffs to start the case in the High Court “as soon as possible”.
Retail Services Group owner Sue Jeffreys said the Queensland Government didn’t understand what the ongoing border closure was doing to business.
“The impact Annastacia Palaszczuk’s having on businesses, I don’t think she has any idea what she’s doing,” she told The Courier Mail.
On Monday, The Australian reported the challenge had been lodged, with six plaintiffs including a Brisbane travel agency and a Cairns charter operator, plus interstate individuals and a company – including the Retail Services Group.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has refused to buckle to pressure to reverse her decision to keep the borders closed during the coronavirus crisis.
One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has also threatened legal action in the High Court if borders aren’t reopened.
Ms Hanson gave the Queensland premier until 4pm last Thursday to open the borders or face legal action.
The One Nation Senator made the threat on Wednesday after accusing the Premier of “destroying people’s lives” and livelihoods, and branding the border closures unconstitutional.
In a statement sent to news.com.au, Ms Hanson said she was “disappointed” by the leadership in the state.
“I am disappointed in the Queensland tourism body, the state mayors, and those industry leaders who failed to take up this fight and challenge Annastacia Palaszczuk over the border closure,” she said.
“There’s no real reason to keep the borders shut.”
A spokesman for Ms Palaszczuk said the decision to keep the borders closed was the appropriate action.
“The Premier wants to get people back to work as quickly as possible but doing so without appropriate attention paid to health concerns including community transmission in southern states could cripple industry for years,” he said.
Meanwhile, business owners and tourism operators on the Gold Coast have launched a protest against the state government, urging them to reopen the borders as their businesses continue to suffer.
According to the Gold Coast Bulletin, around 50 cars took part in the protest, with the majority demanding a set date for reopening.
“We want a set date for when the border will be reopened,” Greg Daven, regional manager for Hot Air Balloon Cairns and Gold Coast, told the publication.
“We want them open by July and we need time to prepare. It takes a lot to reopen businesses.
“Every day we wait is a loss of thousands of dollars for our industry.”
Overnight, Tasmania’s Premier Peter Gutwein announced that residents would be able to travel around the state for the Queen’s Birthday long weekend and stay at locations overnight.
The announcement came after a decision was made to move to stage two of the plan to ease coronavirus restrictions 10 days earlier than anticipated.
As of 3pm on Friday, gatherings of up to 40 patrons will be permitted at cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs if space allows for appropriate social distancing of 1.5m.
Nightclubs will remain closed. Camping, fishing and boating will be allowed statewide and Tasmanians will be allowed to venture into parks and reserves anywhere in the state and short-stay accommodation will be able to reopen.
“It’s going to be a fantastic opportunity for people to sensibly and responsibly start to enjoy this great state again,” Mr Gutwein said.
“It’s important that we continue to review the current situation and respond appropriately.
“I know many businesses are hurting and many businesses will welcome these changes, but the most important thing we need to do is step back into this sensibly and responsibly.”