Prime Minister Scott Morrison has taken aim at Western Australia and Queensland over their strict border closures, saying they should only be in place for health reasons.
Mr Morrison is concerned WA leader Mark McGowan is using the restrictions for economic protectionism, after the premier said a travel bubble with other states would only result in the west losing tourism dollars.
“Locking people in a state so they won’t spend money in other parts of the country, well that’s not the Australian way,” the prime minister told 2GB radio on Thursday.
WA will only open its borders to eastern states if there’s 28 days of unlinked community transmission, the same strict benchmark Queensland has in place before NSW travellers can visit.
Mr Morrison criticised Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk for keeping borders closed, arguing more people in NSW had returned to work than in her state.
“We need Queenslanders back in jobs, I want to see Queenslanders back in jobs.”
NSW authorities are rushing to investigate three coronavirus cases after being given 48 hours by Queensland authorities to find their source.
The cases – which are not linked with each other – have ended the state’s 12-day run of no local transmission.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she heard of the 48-hour deadline through the media, and is concerned it will put extra pressure on contact tracers.
“Does it matter how long it takes our experts to find the links? Sometimes it might take them a couple of hours, sometimes it might take them a few days,” she told the ABC.
“I don’t want to put additional pressure on them unnecessarily. They should just be able to do their jobs.”
Victoria has recorded another 11 cases of coronavirus on Thursday but no deaths, keeping the national toll at 897.
It takes Melbourne’s all important 14-day case average down to 9.7.
The city needs a 14-day average of five or fewer cases and no more than five mystery cases to ease restrictions on October 19.
Meanwhile, South Australia has extended its buffer zone with Victoria, easing restrictions on border communities.
The zone will increase to 70km on each side of the border, allowing more people to travel into SA or return from Victoria without needing to quarantine.
The prime minister is hopeful more will be done in coming weeks to ease border rules between NSW, Victoria and SA.