‘I’m not backing down on border closures’: Gunner
THERE is no clarity on when NT borders will open with chief health officer Hugh Heggie and Chief Minister Michael Gunner refusing to indicate when the travel restrictions will be eased.
Dr Heggie yesterday declined to say whether Territorians would have to wait until September for border restrictions to ease, saying it would "not be appropriate" for him to speculate on the timeline.
It comes after federal deputy chief medical officer Paul Kelly said he couldn't see why borders were still closed.
"I will continue to provide clinical advice … to help inform the Government's response," Dr Heggie said.
"Border controls are the most effective means of preventing the spread of COVID-19.
"Although there are no active cases of COVID-19 in the NT, there is every chance more cases will be diagnosed here. Territorians should not become complacent."
Despite mounting pressure from NT's business community, Mr Gunner has also repeatedly refused to put a date on lifting border restrictions.
Yesterday he hit back at claims that his refusal to set a date was influenced by the upcoming election.
"No, that is bulls***," he said.
"I know that keeping the borders secure is making a lot of people angry, but I'm doing what is right, not what is easy or popular.
"The only grounds on which I'm making these decisions is the safety of Territorians. I'm not going to nominate a date right now.
"If people want to sack me in August because of my position on the borders, that is their right. But I'm not backing down because I know that it is saving lives."
Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein said he looked forward to welcoming NT visitors again after his Government set a date to reopen in July.
"I extend my best wishes to the NT and look forward to welcoming you to our island state once it is safe to do so," he said.
The premiers in SA and WA have also refused to budge on keeping their borders closed.
Their offices told the NT News yesterday they still weren't considering opening borders with the NT despite the Territory having no active coronavirus cases.
Mr Gunner said he wasn't convinced it was safe to even open up the border with SA, which also has zero cases.
"If South Australia can't guarantee their border with Victoria, then I can't guarantee their border with us," he said.
It comes as federal health minister Greg Hunt confirmed yesterday the Commonwealth would lift biosecurity zones in the NT from June 5 so people can travel to and from communities without restrictions.
Originally published as 'I'm not backing down on border closures': Gunner