Two of Australia’s state premiers, who are running states living in a relatively COVID-normal situation, have attacked Prime Minister Scott Morrison for referring to them as cavemen as tensions between state governments and the federal government continue to rise over a reopening plan.
The dispute began on Tuesday morning, with Mr Morrison taking to morning TV show Today in an effortto pressure state governments to stick to the national plan on reopening once vaccination levels reach 70 and 80 per cent of the eligible population.
“Now, it’s like that movie – in The Croods, people wanted to stay in the cave … and that young girl, she wanted to go out and live again and deal with the challenges of living in a different world,” Mr Morrison said.
“COVID is a new, different world, and we need to get out there and live in it. We can’t stay in the cave, and we can get out of it safely.”
The Croods was a children’s movie released in 2013, and the reference did not go down well with the states.
West Australian Premier Mark McGowan was particularly affronted, taking to Facebook to express his displeasure.
“The Prime Minister made a comment implying Western Australians were like cave people from a recent kids’ movie,” Mr McGowan wrote. “It was an odd thing to say.
“I think everyone would rather just see the Commonwealth look beyond New South Wales and actually appreciate what life is like here in WA.
“We currently have no restrictions within our state, a great quality of life, and a remarkably strong economy, which is funding the relief efforts in other parts of the country.
“West Aussies just want decisions that consider the circumstances of all states and territories, not just Sydney.”
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was similarly bemused by the comparison and hit back at the Prime Minister’s comments.
“Have a look at Queensland at the moment: you can go to work and go to school, you can go watch sport, you can play community sport, you can go to a restaurant, you can go out, we haven’t given up,” Ms Palaszczuk said, with a pointed reference to her NSW counterpart Gladys Berejiklian, who has tried to downplay concerns over the state’s enormous case numbers.
Ms Palaszczuk also announced on Wednesday that the Queensland government was pausing arrivals from NSW, Victoria and the ACT from entering the hotel quarantine system.
“No-one currently in a declared hotspot will be permitted to enter Queensland’s hotel quarantine for two weeks, except for those with exemptions such as compassionate reasons,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
NSW announced a record 919 new cases and two deaths on Wednesday.
Mr Morrison, though, wasn’t backing down on Wednesday, telling Sydney radio station 2GB that the state governments would need to commit to the national plan based on Doherty Institute modelling.
“The powers of state governments are not more powerful than the Delta strain of the virus and they are not more powerful than the vaccine,” Mr Morrison said.
“What is needed for the health and safety of people right across the country, whether they are in Tasmania, or NSW, Queensland or Western Australia is getting the population vaccinated, and the national plan provides the incentives, which says, you get vaccinated, then you’re able to open up the country, people can go back to connecting with each other again.”
However, as Richard Denniss from The Australia Institute explains, the Doherty modelling does not say it is safe to end lockdowns once the vaccination rate hits 70 or 80 per cent.
“According to the Doherty modelling, we could spend up to 39 per cent of our time in lockdown if we begin to open up when vaccination hits 70 per cent,” Mr Denniss wrote in a column for The New Daily.
“Regardless of what the PM says, temporary citywide lockdowns will be a near certainty for Australians over the next 12 months, regardless of when we open up.
“But while lockdowns are inevitable, regardless of when we open up, huge case numbers and high mortality rates are not.
“If we wait until vaccination rates are high and if we wait until uncontrolled outbreaks in states like NSW are controlled, the number of deaths will be much lower than if we let the virus rip after we have given it a running start.”
Which state do you live in? Do you want your state to throw open its borders to NSW once vaccinations reach 70 or 80 per cent? At what point would you be comfortable for these borders to reopen? If you live in NSW, are you worried about your inability to travel to other states in the near future? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?
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