Fresh federal attacks on border closures

The federal-state border wars have reignited with senior Morrison government figures attacking premiers over travel restrictions.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, the most senior West Australian in the coalition government, has taken a shot at his state’s Labor leader over the hard border stance.

“Mark McGowan yesterday was a running an economic protectionist argument in favour of continued state border closures,” Senator Cormann told Sky News on Friday.

“Economic state protectionism is explicitly prohibited in the Australian constitution.”

He wants Western Australia to open up to South Australia and the Northern Territory, which both have no active coronavirus cases.

Border restrictions remain popular according to opinion polls which have recorded massive approval ratings for Mr McGowan.

But Senator Cormann believes support will evaporate as economic harm and families being prevented from visiting loved ones interstate start to bite.

NSW has gone six days without community transmission, with more residents of the state’s north being allowed into Queensland.

But the border will remain shut to the rest of NSW until the state has gone for 28 days without a single incident of unlinked community transmission.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said Queensland Labor Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk lacked compassion and common sense.

“The goalposts keep moving. She puts out a definition as to when the borders will open and then that’s not met, we move on to the next thing,” he told the Nine Network.

Labor deputy leader Richard Marles said the federal government should provide leadership on internal borders.

“They are on the sidelines like kids in the schoolyard yelling out, ‘fight, fight, fight’,” he told Nine.

“They are not trying to solve anything. They are just throwing rocks at it.”

Limited international travel into NSW and SA could soon restart, with Australia on the verge of opening up a one-way passage for New Zealanders.

Mr Dutton said inbound tourists from across the Tasman could be segregated on arrival to exempt them from quarantine.

“It would be a big win for tourism operators right across the country, a big win for the economy and for jobs at a time when we really need them,” he said.

Victoria recorded just seven new cases of coronavirus on Friday, along with two deaths, taking the national toll to 890.

The Morrison government is also under immense pressure over aged care after a royal commission condemned deplorable conditions in nursing homes.

All six urgent recommendations have been accepted and an extra $40.6 million thrown at the troubled sector.

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