Why we don’t need another total shutdown


The startling case of a Queensland doctor allegedly providing misleading information to authorities after returning from a personal trip to Melbourne demonstrates how difficult keeping the state's border open is going to be.

Of all professions, you'd expect someone with a medical degree to understand the requirement to isolate after visiting areas where community transmission of COVID-19 is occurring.

As Health Minister Steven Miles correctly observed yesterday: "This isn't good enough from anyone let alone a health professional, someone who should know the risks, someone who should know better."

It would be expedient for Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to now just reverse her decision and close the Queensland border.

And let's face it, Ms Palaszczuk has always shown she has a well-trained nose for populism.

A poll on The Courier-Mail's website yesterday also indicated most Queenslanders would prefer to shut the gate.

However, as this newspaper has consistently argued, Australia remains in the midst of a global pandemic that will not go away any time soon, and what's required in these circumstances is a high degree of flexibility around how restrictions are applied.

Ms Palaszczuk eventually got the balance right by opening the border while shutting out Victorian tourists, and later refusing entry to anyone who had visited certain areas of New South Wales where there's been clusters of cases.

The Government may be quietly revelling in Victoria's predicament, and the Premier may have convinced herself into believing the criticisms of her initial hard border closure have now proven ill-conceived.

However such a view ignores the fact that the justification for the carte blanche border closure had been proven unfounded, the expectation that other jurisdictions would have to go two incubation periods (a month) without a new coronavirus case has proven unrealistic and the Premier's ruminating about how the lockup might continue to September has proven unhelpful.



Inevitably, the Premier abandoned her "let's hide under the doona" mentality, conceded on all these fronts and landed on a border position which made much more sense.

Everyone expects that the government will prioritise the health concerns and heed the advice of Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young.

But there's an expectation that the Premier must also assess the economic imperatives and ensure that the costs of whatever actions the government takes don't exponentially outweigh the risks.

The case of the Rockhampton doctor, who has been fined $4003 for providing misleading information, shows there is a likelihood that Queensland is going to incur the odd outbreak in the months ahead.

So too do the figures that The Courier-Mail revealed this week showing 185 people had entered Queensland from other states and international destinations and provided fake personal details.

However just like we don't ban the use of motor vehicles because some people get caught speeding, we shouldn't cause businesses to shut down and force workers out of a job because of a few bad apples at the border.

The same logic should apply to other restrictions when Queensland inevitably does get a cluster of coronavirus cases.

By and large, Queenslanders have already shown they will follow the rules, and our contact tracing system has been one of the best.

So the Government shouldn't just jump at the chance to shutter the entire state.

Like the border, we need a malleable system that ensures the ends justifies the means.



Time to weather the storm


They say pressure makes diamonds. If that's the case then tonight is the perfect chance for Broncos' halfback Brodie Croft to shine.

It's Croft's first match against his old team, Melbourne Storm, since he made the move north.

And coming as it does with the Broncos at the lowest point in their history, and their coach Anthony Seibold's future under question, it is the perfect stage for Croft to make a statement.

Ladbrokes has the Broncos at $8.25 to win. What a chance for the Broncos, and Croft, to make a statement and shock the NRL.






Originally published as Why we don't need another total shutdown

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