Annastacia Palaszczuk is facing a huge border fight over her question over unvaccinated children, called out for “scaremongering”.
Annastacia Palaszczuk has been criticised for being “out of control” and accused of keeping Queenslanders in a “state of perpetual anxiety” in a scathing TV interview.
Disapproval is mounting for the Queensland Premier as members of the Morrison government blast her over her refusal to agree to a plan to open borders.
National cabinet was presented with modelling from the Doherty Institute recently which advised lockdowns and enforced border closures would no longer be needed when jab protection reaches a specific threshold.
But Ms Palaszczuk continues to defy instructions from federal counterparts, infuriating many senior Morrison government cabinet figures.
A steady stream of senior federal cabinet ministers tore into the Queensland Premier after she raised concerns about the need to vaccinate children, creating a new barrier to open borders.
Ms Palaszczuk told parliament she wants more research into the impacts of Covid-19 on children and for this risk to be considered in the modelling.
“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 said.
“You open up this state and you let the virus in here, every child under 12 is vulnerable.”
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews accused the Premier of “scaremongering” while Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg continued the assault on the state leader on Thursday.
“It‘s a desperate denial of the reality and is not based on the medical advice,” he told Sunrise.
“The medical advice is that we should vaccinated people aged 12 to 15 – which we’re doing.”
The pressure continued on Thursday afternoon in a searing TV interview with LNP senator Amanda Stoker, also the Assistant Minister for Women.
In the interview, with the ABC’s Patricia Karvelas on Afternoon Briefings, Ms Stoker called Palaszczuk’s arguments “utterly unreasonable”.
“No where in the world is there a vaccine that’s approved for under 12s, nowhere,” she said. “She’s set a goalpost that can be met by no one.
“I think that exposes her real agenda here and that is to keep Queenslanders living in a state of perpetual anxiety and uncertainty rather than a path towards living safely alongside the virus.
“She’s had 18 months to raise these concerns. Why now? Why is this the moment that she’s decided to put the welfare of children on the table?
“For the Morrison government, the interests of families, children, people of every age have been front of mind from the start.
“If the premier had had a good look at the Doherty modelling she would have seen that the potential for risks for children was considered and it was found to be extremely low.
“What experts say about this virus, even in its Delta strain, is that it is highest impact in the over 70s age bracket, where about seven per cent of people find themselves in the ICU.
“It’s remarkably low impact on children and less than 0.1 per cent of people under 14 find themselves in an ICU.
“What this is blatant scare mongering and the politics of fear from a premier who is out of control.”
Nationals Senator Matt Canavan echoed those comments to Sky News on Thursday night, accusing the Queensland Premier of “fearmongering”.
Yet new analysis has showed Covid-19 cases in young children have increased five times faster than people aged over 60 in the past two months.
In data announced overnight by business and public policy group called Provocate, NewsWire’s Anthony Piovesan reports “coronavirus infections in children aged under nine jumped from 1700 to 3933 cases – a 131 per cent increase – from June 29 to August 28”.
Despite pressure from the Morrison government, however, there some experts that agree with Palaszczuk.
“I can understand why she’s concerned,” WHO advisory professor Mary-Louise McLaws told The Project on Thursday night.
“She doesn’t want kids to now get sick, go to hospital, or become a source to others.
“There is evidence that Delta picks on anyone who is unvaccinated and that is young adults.”
When asked if it was not a valid concern for parents, Ms Stoker said she “completely gets it”, but that the data is “very clear”, citing unvaccinated children experience “mild to moderate symptoms”.
Australia’s chief medical officer Paul Kelly said there was “very little evidence anywhere in the world that severity has increased” in childhood infections.
“There have been cases in children. There have, in fact, been, since 1 January this year until last night, there have been 3,815 cases of Delta virus infection in children under the age of 12.
“But let’s look behind those data and look at the severity of illness. There have been 134 hospitalisations, 3.5 per cent hospitalisation rate. And we know from New South Wales data that most of the kids that have been admitted to hospital have been for social reasons, not because they are particularly unwell – their parents are sick and can’t look after them.
“So the hospitalisation rate is small and most of those are not because of severe illness. There have only been three children under the age of 12 admitted to intensive care. Three out of 3,815, way less than one in 1,000.”
He also reassured parents no deaths of children under 12 from Covid-19 have been reported in Australia.
Shidan Tosif, a consultant paediatrician and researcher for the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, told NewsWire that “children under the age of 12 remain at extremely low risk of hospitalisation or severe disease from Covid-19.
“The vast majority of children are at low risk of getting serious disease, but there is a very small chance of getting ill if a child has comorbidities, such as respiratory or cardiac chronic disease.
“These children are at a slightly higher risk, but it’s still a small risk.”