Tensions boiling on virus reopening plan

(AP Photo/Rod McGuirk)

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has fired another warning shot at state premiers refusing to rule out harsh coronavirus restrictions when vaccination coverage targets are hit.

Mr Frydenberg has urged the business community to continue pushing for a nationally agreed reopening plan to be maintained.

Western Australia and Queensland have signalled border closures may be used to curb outbreaks even when 70 and 80 per cent of Australia’s over-16 population is fully vaccinated.

Mr Frydenberg said state and territory governments would not receive the same levels of lockdown support when the thresholds were met.

“You could have the ridiculous situation where somebody in New South Wales could travel to Canada before they could go to Cairns,” he told the Seven Network on Monday.

“Somebody in Victoria could travel to Singapore and Bali before they could go to Perth. That would be ridiculous.”

Australia has fully vaccinated 34.16 per cent of its population aged 16 and over, while 54.47 have received one jab.

The nation continues to break records for daily infection rates with NSW recording another 1218 local cases on Sunday.

Six deaths brought the national toll to 999.

Victoria will extend its lockdown after an outbreak-high 92 cases on Sunday, while there were 13 in the ACT.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said the federal government’s focus on the reopening plan was a distraction from problems with the vaccine rollout and quarantine.

“This government has not looked at where the mistakes have been and set about correcting them,” he told ABC radio.

“They’ve been too busy with their spin and marketing to worry about that.”

Mr Albanese said WA Premier Mark McGowan’s pursuit of eliminating coronavirus cases was not in conflict with the national plan, which allows highly targeted lockdowns.

“It does allow for premiers to make decisions, it’s silent when it comes to border closures, but it speaks about minimising baseline restrictions,” he said.

He said the federal government was targeting Labor state premiers during a more pressing national coronavirus crisis.

Mr Frydenberg said harsh restrictions needed to be relaxed when high vaccination rates were reached because of devastating mental health impacts.

“We have seen a record number of teenagers turn up at hospital with mental health issues as a result of anxiety, depression and suicidal tendencies,” he told the Nine Network.


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