‘Fed up’ NSW slaps states with $140m bill

A “frustrated and annoyed” New South Wales will begin sending multimillion-dollar bills to Australia’s states and territories this week for putting their citizens in hotel quarantine.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian last week said Treasurer Dominic Perrottet had been tasked with figuring out how much the state was owed for its hotel quarantine program.

NSW processes 3000 returned travellers a week with almost half – 45 per cent – of those coming from other states.

It’s estimated NSW will have spent around $140 million processing arrivals from other states and territories by the end of the year.

State treasurers will meet this week where Mr Perrottet is expected to hand over the quarantine bills.

Ms Berejiklian said last week the states – especially Western Australia and Queensland could “not have it both ways”.

“It’s not so much the dollars; it’s the principle,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters.

“I get really frustrated and annoyed when Western Australia and Queensland expect us to process all of their citizens, which we do gladly, but then just think of all these excuses as to why NSW residents can’t move freely: I say to the states, you can’t have it both ways.”

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NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian wants to see hard borders dropped. Picture: Ryan Pierse/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

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Queensland and Western Australia take between 500 and 700 returned travellers each week. Victoria, which was forced to stop its hotel quarantine program after a coronavirus outbreak, is hoping to start accepting travellers again in weeks.

Speaking to reporters today, Ms Berejiklian said she “wouldn’t be surprised” if NSW opened its border with Victoria more quickly than Queensland reopened to Sydneysiders.

“There’s no reason, not withstanding the fact that every day we’re in a pandemic that brings its own challenges, that from the overall trend that there isn’t a single place in Australia that NSW should not be welcome,” the Premier said.

NSW today recorded one new case of coronavirus while Victoria recorded zero cases, the third day in a row no-one has been diagnosed with the illness.

Zero new cases and no lost lives reported in the last 24 hours. The 14 day average is down to 1.9. There is 1 case with an unknown source. More info: https://t.co/eTputEZdhs#COVID19VicData pic.twitter.com/XG94AhLGzI

Ms Berejiklian said Victorians could look forward to reopened borders within “weeks not months”.

The Premier referred to a recent promise from Victorian Premier Dan Andrews that further restrictions would be eased across his state on November 8.

“That’s a day where the clock starts for NSW,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“We’re not going to have that border in place a day longer than needs to be because we know how many are suffering as consequence.

“I certainly wanted to give a signal to NSW that we’re talking weeks not months of when the Victorian border may come down, that’s important to allow people to plan ahead.”

Ms Berejiklian said NSW’s cap of 3000 would not be reduced but the Premier was looking forward to Victoria accepting returned travellers again to allow other returned travellers into the state.

“Obviously we’re very keen because it takes the pressure off NSW. We won’t reduce the cap of 3000 each week but it’s who we welcome in that could change – universities want students to come back, businesses want business travel,” she said.

“We hope in the next few weeks and definitely before Christmas that Melbourne can accept people through Tullamarine Airport.”

Victoria stopped its hotel quarantine program after a coronavirus outbreak. Picture: Andrew Henshaw/NCA NewsWireSource:News Corp Australia

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on October 30, a day before the state election, that Sydneysiders would stay banned from the sunshine state.

Anyone living outside Greater Sydney will be allowed to travel to Queensland from tomorrow.

“I have the courage to stand up for what is right; I have the courage to keep Queensland safe,” Ms Palaszczuk said last week.

“And unfortunately, it is disappointing to see the NSW Premier tried to be political at this time, when she has enough of her own issues to deal with. This is simply a diversion from what is happening with herself.”

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