‘Move on’: Ex-Qld Labor premier backs NSW in border wars
Long-serving former Queensland Premier Peter Beattie has launched a salvo at Labor states over their handling of pandemic restrictions, saying Australia must "adopt the NSW model or we're going to go broke".
The remarks will send a jolt through the Queensland election campaign, where Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has been under pressure over her border policy.
Mr Beattie, who said it "pained" him to make the remarks as a lifelong Labor member, took specific aim at border restrictions, declaring: "This can't be on a state-by-state basis, we are a country after all and frankly you're just killing the economy, killing jobs and the economic devastation will be with us for years".
He said he understood states had acted to "protect their citizenry" and have been "over cautious" but added "now we have to move on".
"We've now got to become a nation and think about what's good for Australia and what's good for everyone," Mr Beattie said.
"Elections come and go and governments come and go but the pain of this will remain unless we get it right."
Mr Beattie's remarks to The Daily Telegraph come less than a week from the Queensland election, with polls on a knife's edge.
Urging for a "rethink", Mr Beattie said objectively the NSW approach - using contact tracing to isolate small areas - had been the superior method for the economy.
"The NSW model is the one Australia has to adopt", he said, conceding Queensland's approach had been popular locally, but that it was now time for it to change on borders.
"I think initially the Queensland government approach was probably the right one, but I think we've moved past that now,'' he said. "I've got no doubt there are a lot of people who support the Queensland government, but this has gone on for (too long)."
Noting that a vaccine is still some time away, Mr Beattie said "what worked in the past won't work in the future" and states like Queensland needed to find a more economically viable way to live with the virus.
"Whoever wins in Queensland will have to pick up the pieces whether it's the current government or a new government ... they will be dealing with the economics of COVID and it's the same in Victoria,'' he said.
"What may have given people security in the past and made them feel safe will not make them feel safe in the future. Queensland is a small business state and ... unless you get them driving jobs and opportunities then you don't have any economic growth."
He said NSW had shown COVID could be managed "the hard way" - keeping the economy and borders open while using strict contact tracing to crack down on local cases. "Queensland has not had anywhere near the number of overseas people returning as NSW," Mr Beattie said.
Originally published as 'Move on': Ex-Qld Labor premier backs NSW in border wars