(Australian Associated Press)
Scott Morrison has insisted border closures are up to premiers while offering the lure of tourist dollars from New Zealand and interstate.
The prime minister has refused to publicly attack Queensland’s border closures while on the state election campaign trail.
While senior Morrison government figures have consistently lambasted Labor premier Annastacia Palaszczuk over the popular measures, the temperature appears to be cooling ahead of the October 31 poll.
Mr Morrison said the cost of border closures had been severe for tourism but conceded travel restrictions “played a role” during Victoria’s deadly second coronavirus wave.
“Protecting health does come at a cost,” he told Queensland radio 4RO on Wednesday.
The first tourist flights from New Zealand are set to arrive in New South Wales and the Northern Territory from Friday.
Mr Morrison said arriving Kiwis would be exempt from hotel quarantine requirements.
“If that was available in Queensland that could happen immediately too,” he said.
“New South Wales residents being able to holiday in Queensland would obviously be good for the tourism industry.”
Victoria on Wednesday recorded five more coronavirus deaths, taking the national death toll to 904.
While there were just seven new cases, people in the regional centre of Shepparton have been asked to get tested after three infections emerged there.
There are also concerns about the pandemic’s mental health impact with Australians increasingly seeking help.
There has been a 15 per cent increase in people seeking psychological support since March and a 31 per cent spike in Victoria over the past four weeks.
Victorians still subject to coronavirus restrictions are using services like Beyond Blue, Lifeline and Kids Helpline at higher rates than the rest of the country.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is appealing to Premier Daniel Andrews to lift restrictions on Sunday.
“Please understand the impact that the lockdown and these harsh restrictions are having on people’s mental health,” he told reporters in Sydney.
“Please give the people of Victoria their freedom back this weekend.”
NSW health authorities are trying to quash community transmission after seven new locally acquired cases were among the 13 recorded on Tuesday.
The NSW government continues to ease restrictions despite the figures.
Queensland has just two active cases amid a continued streak of no new infections.
The prime minister will meet with state and territory leaders for national cabinet on Friday when the idea of coronavirus “hotspots” is expected to again be discussed