No, this is not satire. Australian lawmaker and the premier of Queensland, Annastacia Palaszczuk mocked a reporter who asked if she would support the federal government’s planned reopening of international travel in December by asking why anyone would want to visit Tokyo in the midst of a pandemic.
Palaszczuk skipped a nearly two-year ban on international travel in July so that she could visit Tokyo just weeks after Japanese authorities had declared a state of emergency because of soaring COVID-19 cases.
“Where are you going to go? Palaszczuk snapped at the reporter when he asked whether she would support allowing Australians more freedom once 80 per cent of the population are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Are you going to go to India? she sarcastically quipped. “In Tokyo, you have to sit at perspex screens with masks on and if you remove your mask you can’t talk while you’re eating,” Palaszczuk told the reporter – an apparent reference to pandemic restrictions that Queenslanders have largely escaped through much of the last 18-months.
“Yes, in Europe, some people are travelling,” she conceded. “I think the federal government needs to identify very clearly what are the countries that Australians can travel to. Okay.
Going through those airports, some of those airports are like ghost towns. Where you have to wear a P95 mask. I mean Queenslanders would probably enjoy greater freedoms travelling around Queensland than they hopped on a plane and went to Tokyo.”
While the vast majority of Australians are banned from leaving the country, Palaszczuk was granted an exemption to travel abroad in July so that she could attend VIP gatherings at the Tokyo Olympics.
Palaszczuk said her presence in Japan was absolutely essential because she was working to convince the International Olympic Committee to award Brisbane the Summer Olympic Games in 2032.
Brisbane was awarded the Olympics with zero rival bids in contention.
Palaszczuk had signed up to a federal government plan to ease restrictions once 80 per cent of the population are vaccinated. The outspoken lawmaker has, however, distanced herself from that commitment and suggested Queensland wouldn’t reopen domestic borders, let alone international borders, until at least 90 per cent of the population are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Less than 44 per cent of Queenslanders are currently full vaccinated.
“I’m just frankly sick of it,” Palaszczuk retorted when pushed about her resistance to the reopening plans. “I’m sick of Queenslanders being attacked for doing the right thing, for getting vaccinated and the fact… Queenslanders have done everything has asked them to do to keep this state safe,” she continued.
Palaszczuk is worried that going along with the federal reopening plan would put Queenslanders in a worse position than they are currently, with their freedoms curtailed rather than returned.
The premier is currently waiting on updated modelling to inform her next moves but her tough stance has proved popular at home.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.