His comments followed sustained criticism from some in the struggling tourism sector over the economic impact of shutting out travellers from the southern states.

Dr Young reiterated that she wanted NSW and Victoria to record 28 days without community transmission before opening the border, but would also welcome a national hotspot definition, which is now being worked on with her counterparts across the country.

NSW has warned it may never reach the threshold set by Queensland to reopen its borders, with Premier Gladys Berejiklian saying 28 days of no community transmission is not feasible. Credit:Getty Images, Brook Mitchell

On Sunday, Dr Young told reporters NSW and Victoria were doing a “marvellous” job of tracing confirmed cases to reduce the number of infections from unknown sources.

“I’m confident that with all that work, we should, I hope, be able to open our borders for Christmas,” Dr Young said. “We’re doing everything we can to assist those two states and they are doing a marvellous job, they really are.”

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has consistently pushed back against claims the closure was motivated by the looming October election and has expressed a desire to reopen when the health advice says it is safe to do so.


Economists have also hit back at the suggestion it was state border closures, not national travel restrictions and the broader fiscal environment brought about by the pandemic, that was hurting businesses most.

Economics professor John Quiggin from the University of Queensland said those advocating for reopening were yet to present a case that the risks of a “much larger economic and health cost” from a renewed outbreak were small enough to ignore.

After the release of national accounts data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics last week, Professor Quiggin said it was “reasonable” but not conclusive to suggest the states with the strongest border controls had suffered the smallest economic blow.

The figures showed Queensland’s state final demand – the total value of goods and services that are sold in a state – saw a 5.9 per cent seasonally adjusted drop over the June quarter, with Western Australia, the Northern Territory, South Australia and the ACT also recording dips of 6 per cent or lower.

NSW and Victoria fell by 8.6 per cent and 8.5 per cent, respectively, while Tasmania fell by 7.4 per cent.

Griffith University’s economics professor Fabrizio Carmignani broadly agreed with the reading of the data, adding that health factors needed to be considered in any debate about border controls.

“The supposed benefit from opening the border would then be, to some extent, offset [by] any new cases,” he said.

Both professors agreed the state needed to take on debt to see itself out of the recession.

Responding to questions, the Treasurer said a move to a Victorian-style lockdown would cost Queensland $3.1 billion a month.

By comparison, the net cost of border closures – or what people from other states spend in Queensland less what Queenslanders spend interstate – was $190 million per month, Mr Dick said.

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Matt Dennien is a reporter with Brisbane Times.


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