Queenslands health minister has accused the federal government of using the army in a political attack on the state government after it was announced that Australian Defence Force (ADF) support at the border checkpoints would wind up from Oct. 1.
Steven Miles, Queenslands health minister, said the withdrawal of Defence support was disappointing and would make the job of police even harder.
“Theres no secret I think that the prime minister doesnt like our strong border protections, but they have kept Queenslanders safe,” he told reporters on Sept. 23.
“I really dont think the Defence force should be used as a bargaining chip in what is an ongoing political attack from the federal government on the state government. Our policies have worked, and they should back off,” he went on to say.
Greg Hunt, the federal health minister, says the armed forces will continue to assist in other ways around the country, including with contact tracing and hotel quarantining—the latter a decision that was welcomed by Miles.
“This was a time-limited approach, and as Queensland begins to lift its border restrictions I think thats great news for New South Wales, its great news for Queensland, its great news for Australia,” Hunt told Nines Today program.
Hunt denied the decision was “payback” against the states Labor government designed to coincide with a predicted surge in cross-border traffic expected now that Queenslands border bubble will be extended 100km into New South Wales—opening the border to over 150,000 more people.
“No, this was the agreement that was reached in August, and well continue to provide the support,” Hunt responded.
“Where states and territories have needed support, we have provided that support and our defence force has worked incredibly well.”
A Defence spokesperson told The Epoch Times that it agreed on Aug. 7 to provide support at Queenslands border checkpoints until Sept. 30 and will now prioritise supporting mandatory quarantine efforts while also preparing for the high-risk weather season.
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