5 May, 2020
They can’t see and won’t listen
If state government pronouncements and actions in relation to COVID-19 are anything to go by, it is again apparent our leaders have forgotten that people live west of the Great Dividing Range.
Western Queensland has remained coronavirus-free, but the Palaszczuk Government refuses to even think about reducing the crippling restrictions on business.
Rugby league gets special dispensation. ‘Culturally significant’ funerals get special dispensation. But as far as this government is concerned, business in the regions can wither on the vine because, according to Health Minister Steven Miles, it’s all too difficult “because messaging would be inconsistent.”
What is the difference between State Government borders and Local Government borders? We have all coped with the differences and “inconsistent messaging” between north and south. Are we not bright enough to handle similar differences between east and west?
For some reason Premier Palaszczuk can’t bring herself to even look over the Range to get the real picture.
We heard her recent breathless announcement about families being able to have picnics in parks, sunbathe on beaches, and go for rides on motorbikes and jet skis. That might be fun for the people in the south-east corner but in the Central West we want more than a bit of fun.
Our towns are dying and the government talks about having picnics. We want to see businesses start operating again. We want to see people working again. We want schools to open again. And we have every right to expect a positive response to these requests because we have remained coronavirus-free.
We agree that social distancing rules have to stay but commonsense could be applied to opening the doors of cafes, coffee shops, restaurants, pubs and clubs, and any other business that can operate in a safe and healthy manner.
We acknowledge that rules covering visitors and tourists to the west should not be relaxed. That’s what makes the “first steps to a freer Queensland” announcement so farcical.
Queenslanders can shop for non-essential items, visit National Parks, and go for a drive or ride for pleasure, provided they remain within 50kms of home and limit outings to household members or an individual taking a friend.
Does the Premier, the Health Minister, and the Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeannette Young, realise 50kms won’t get people from one town to the next in many areas out west and will not get some rural people to any town at all? Some won’t even get off their properties.
Do they realise the State boundaries extend further than the south-east corner?
And do they realise Western Queenslanders hate being threatened or spoken down to? When the Premier lectured: “Queenslanders will need to be on their best behaviour over the coming month if pandemic restrictions are to be eased any further,” did she realise how many regional Queenslanders she offended?
And if Gold Coast beaches overflow in the coming weeks, will westerners continue to be punished?
The Premier, the Health Minister, and the Chief Health Officer need to take an urgent look over the Range and see exactly what the situation is like out west. This is not the south-east corner. There is no coronavirus here at this stage.
We are mature enough to know we can’t take unnecessary health risks and smart enough to know now is not the time to fling all the doors open.
Businesses throughout the State, and Australia, are bleeding, but health risks in some parts of the country should not prevent special consideration being given to areas where the risk of returning to some sort of normality is very low. Most of Western Queensland should be given special consideration.
Premier Palaszczuk, the Health Minister, and Dr Young must start treating us like responsible adults because we hate being preached to in a condescending manner. If they expect us to believe they are not putting politics before people, they will have to prove it.