Opinion: Premier must stick to her guns on border

A FLURRY of cultural references to global pandemics emerged when we were locked down and restricted to Netflix and reading.

The 2011 film 'Contagion' rated through the roof, and I dug out Jack London's 'The Scarlet Plague'. Published in 1912 and describing a viral outbreak in 2013, London was scarily prophetic.

But how can you go past the 'Alien' quadrilogy as a modern metaphor for the dangers of an unknown enemy?

The Nostromo's crew might have been confronted by a carnivorous creature and not a virus, but the moral is the same: allow an alien threat to breach quarantine and all hell breaks loose.

But what if keeping the doors locked - and potentially asphyxiating from lack or air - is a bigger risk than the beast itself?



Sigourney Weaver from Alien.
Sigourney Weaver from Alien.



This is the dilemma Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, our very own Lieutenant Ripley, finds herself in just five months before an election.

There she will face the judgment of a community longing for a beer and a steak in a local pub; a constituency afraid an ailing economy will kill their jobs just as it did so many others.

The Premier since March has rightly put aside politics and religiously followed the medical advice of Queensland's respected and independent Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeannette Young.

That advice has made Queensland the envy of the COVID-19 world.

While New South Wales has a population just 1.5 times that of Queensland, the Waratah state suffers an infection rate three times higher, and a mortality rate eight time higher.

Little wonder Palaszczuk refuses to be lectured to by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

Yes, tragically, Queensland has also suffered the loss of tens of thousands of jobs, including in tourism. But should Palaszczuk revert to politics-mode and buckle to pressure from Frecklington, Pauline Hanson and Clive Palmer? Should she re-open the border long before September and risk the health of Queenslanders just to build her popularity and save Labor seats?

Berejiklian insists it's not politics but just common sense to re-open the border. She even argued that "we can't pretend that a border is going to prevent [infections]." Really? In what medical journal did she read that?

Other critics insist it's crazy to keep borders closed when Queensland's transmission rate is so low. And how did we get it so low? By keeping the border closed.

As Corporal Hicks from the 1986 'Aliens' warned, "Stay frosty, and alert. We can't afford to let one of those b******s in here".


NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Picture: AAP/Kelly Barnes
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Picture: AAP/Kelly Barnes



Don't be fooled. Berejiklian is at odds with Palaszczuk not just because she's from the other side of politics but because the NSW economy is far more dependent on tourism - $40 billion there compared to just $13 billion here - and is therefore suffering worse. Berejiklian needs Queensland tourists to prop up her ailing economy.

Sadly, it's naked politics and not science or economics that's driving opposition to Palaszczuk's border policy. Few could deny the Palaszczuk Government has been a rather ordinary one these past five years.



It's easy to assume Palaszczuk is sticking to her guns only for political reasons, namely a populist and jingoistic fear of catching the virus from "alien" southerners. But if the Premier was motivated solely by politic, that border would never have closed.

We must not open the borders till NSW (and Victoria) have near-zero infection rates. That's why we must trust science and not politics to get the economy back on track.

Originally published as Opinion: Premier must stick to her guns on border