Still no date for NT borders to reopen as Chief Minister cites southern Black Lives Matter protests as cause for coronavirus concern

by | Jun 9, 2020 | NT Politics | 0 comments

Black Lives Matter protests in southern capital cities are being cited by Chief Minister Michael Gunner as another reason why the NT will not be rushed to open its borders.

Mr Gunner told ABC Radio Darwin on Tuesday that he held concerns after seeing thousands congregate to protest over the weekend, suggesting that it could result in outbreaks of coronavirus in those cities.

“We obviously saw large gatherings of people down south over the weekend,” he said, adding it would take “about 10 days” to determine if the virus had been spread.

“We’re watching these community transmission rates down south. No-one knows the answer yet on how they’ll handle the step out from stage one to stage two.

“We will know very soon if it’s contained down south, and then with confidence you can make a border decision.”

Mr Gunner reiterated he would be assessing the situation on a weekly basis starting June 15, but did not offer a date for when the borders could open at the earliest.

It was also not divulged during the interview what medical advice Mr Gunner is currently relying on to keep the borders shut at this time.

Business and the hospitality and tourism industry have been pressuring Mr Gunner to open the borders immediately to get the stagnated economy moving again.

“I’ll be taking the medical advice,” Mr Gunner said, but did not elaborate on what that currently is or when he last received advice from the Chief Health Officer.

“I’m very sensitive to the fact that there’s a lot of businesses out there who need visitors to be viable. I’m also aware and have made a lot of decisions over the last three months, about what it is we need to do to save lives and be cautious around coronavirus.”

As of next Monday, the government’s mandatory quarantine restrictions will be lifted to permit travelers to the NT to self-quarantine for 14 days at their own selected accommodation without the need to pay $2500.

Meanwhile, the Opposition CLP continued to raise their attack on the Gunner Government for failing to provide a full and complete financial snapshot of the Territory’s books ahead of the election.

“This is while the Gunner Government outsources its responsibility to rebuild the economy following years of mismanagement and the impact of the international COVID-19 pandemic, all while it hides the true budget position,” said leader Lia Finocchiaro.

“We need action now. If elected, a Country Liberal Government will move immediately to simplify mining taxes through an ad valorem system, establish an Office of the Territory Coordinator to take charge of major private sector projects and halve approval wait times through the Approvals Fast-Track Taskforce.

“On the flipside the Gunner Government doesn’t have a plan to rebuild the economy.”

Mr Gunner has stated some sort of financial report with forecasts will be released on July 29, the day before the government goes into caretaker mode.

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