Flat White

Behind Annastacia Palaszczuk’s border wars

19 May 2020

5:20 PM

19 May 2020

5:20 PM

The decision to close the Queensland border to protect citizens from the spread of coronavirus, like many other decisions the state’s Chief Health Officer has made, is just for show.

It has nothing to do with protecting Queenslanders and I can tell you this because I travelled across the border Friday and was shocked at how easy it was. But more of that in a moment.

The border was closed at the end of March and yesterday Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that it might not reopen until September.

“It’s not my decision, it’s based on the best health advice,” she told the ABC.

That “best health advice” is from Chief Health Officer Dr Jannette Young, the bureaucrat who cancelled the RAAF’s traditional ANZAC Day flypast because it was not safe, only to later admit: “There is no health risk for someone getting in a plane, of course there isn’t.”

So what was the problem?

“The health risk,” she told journalists, “is if one person does that, then someone else will say ‘well maybe there’s no health risk if I go on a drive through, if I do this’.”


So the flyover was banned as a symbolic move.

Other examples of “best health advice” from Dr Jannette Young include closing Queensland schools, not because they are a high-risk environment for spreading the virus, but because, as the Brisbane Times reported her saying, “closing them down would help people understand the gravity of the situation”.

“If you go out to the community and say, ‘this is so bad, we can’t even have schools, all schools have got to be closed’, you are really getting to people,” Dr Young said. “So sometimes it’s more than just the science and the health, it’s about the messaging.”

And so it is with the much-trumped Queensland border closure. It is a symbolic move that treats the public like mugs since, in practical terms, it neither prevents people from entering the state, nor protects those already there.

I travelled from Sydney to Brisbane at the weekend and didn’t apply for a border pass until I was driving through Tweed Heads, just minutes from the Sunshine State.

As I drove, my 15-year-old son grabbed my laptop and googled “Queensland entry pass”. He quickly found the appropriate website and filled out an online form as we came up to the police checkpoint. It took him less than two minutes.

Within seconds of him submitting the online form, I received an email with an attached Queensland border pass. It took less time than a sneeze.

We did not stop the car at the border. We simply held up the laptop, with the pass open on the screen, as a kind officer waved us straight across. The World Health Organisation showed more interest in Chinese lab experiments than Queensland police showed in us.

It was only later, when I perused the Queensland government website, that I realised I was supposed to fill out a border pass application for every occupant of the vehicle. Presumably, that makes the rest of my family illegal immigrants.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about ease of entry or the kindly policeman’s manner. Would that more officers of the law were as nice.

I, like most of the public, just have a gnawing feeling that many of the restrictions we are being subjected to have no basis in health and are in fact completely unnecessary.

But worse, they are insulting.

When you ban the flying of planes because it might encourage people to drive cars; when you sabotage our children’s education so as to “send a message”; when you close the border and then issue border passes faster than I can say “achoo”, don’t call it “best health advice” because we just don’t believe you anymore. Be honest. It’s bureaucrats creating bureaucracy to cover their own behinds at the expense of ours.

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