Border closure: When will it end
IT'S the $4 billion question that nobody has an answer for.
Treasurer Jackie Trad was meant to be handing down her pre-election budget yesterday. Instead she was faced with the task of revealing the coronavirus cost to the Government's bottom line.
Ms Trad reckons State coffers will be down $4 billion. The hit to businesses, never mind the tens of thousands of people who have lost their jobs, will be even greater.
Yet despite the fact that Queensland recorded a grand total of zero new coronavirus cases yesterday, the Government seems in no great hurry to ease restrictions that have caused enormous economic pain.
According to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, her administration has "a very clear path to recovery".
If it does, it is a state secret.
Despite numerous press conferences, it remains unclear when schools will be allowed to reopen properly. Will it be after three, five or seven days of no new cases?
Fed-up students and parents would like to know.
Restaurants, cafes and theme parks would likewise like to know when they might be able to once more throw open their doors.
There is also no indication when the border might be reopened. It should be top of the to-do list, given the enormous damage being done to communities in the southern Gold Coast.
A Bulletin reader from Tweed Heads summed it up perfectly this week.
"It is now beyond ridiculous," he wrote. "Tweed Byron had max 56 positive, less than third of Gold Coast. We now only have 12 with NO new cases.
"Open the border and stop the wastage of man hours … Please advise all premiers Australians exist outside of capital cities."
But despite the lack of new cases either north or south of that pointless invisible line separating the Coolangatta from the Tweed, there is no indication when the barricades might be torn down.
Newly elected Currumbin MP Laura Gerber told this column her constituents were frustrated by the lack of communication.
"Annastacia Palaszczuk clearly doesn't understand that on the southern Gold Coast, we are one connected community, separated by a line on a map," Ms Gerber said.
"The border artificially divides streets and businesses - but we are one connected community.
"If the border needs to stay closed because of the health advice, Labor need to explain that to my community.
"There has been nothing but chaos and confusion since the border closed because Labor botched the implementation.
"The Premier announcing the border closure on Twitter devoid of details caused confusion and anxiety and our community still isn't being communicated with."
It seems the Government is remarkably good at banning thing, closing things and issuing fines.
But there is little sense of planning for better days ahead.
Ms Palaszczuk should get credit for making some tough calls to squash the pandemic. But the economy has been squashed too. And many ordinary people's lives - most particularly on the southern Gold Coast.
With the number unemployed soaring and a Commsec report this week revealing Queensland has slipped behind South Australia to sixth in a ranking of economic performance, opening up our economy could not be more urgent.
Lifting the barriers at the border would be a good start. But when will they do it?
That's the $4 billion question.
Originally published as Border closure: When will it end