The Victorian government is being accused of double standards, welcoming more than 1,000 tennis players and officials ahead of the Australian Open, even though its own overseas residents and the interstate are unable to get home.
Hundreds have already arrived since Thursday, flying on chartered flights organized by the Australian Open.
All Australian Open players and officials must return a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a flight to Australia.
The players will spend 14 days in three quarantine hotels in Melbourne, but will be allowed out for five hours each day to train.
Despite the strict measures, the move has drawn criticism from stranded Australians, as well as politicians, airline bosses and interstates.
Sydney and Brisbane continue to be designated as “red zones” under the Victorian government’s system of “traffic zones” to identify hot spots, despite both cities reporting several days without locally acquired cases.
This means that all residents of those regions are barred from entering, unless granted a special exemption, leaving hundreds of Victorians unable to return home.
“Victoria’s approach to Sydney appears to be out of proportion to the actual risk,” Joyce said on Friday.
He said Qantas and its budget arm Jetstar had canceled nearly 3,000 flights between Melbourne and Sydney since the northern beaches outbreak caused borders to slam shut before Christmas.
“Behind each of those canceled flights are many people whose plans have been launched into the air,” Joyce said.
New South Wales Transport Minister Andrew Constance yesterday accused the Victorian government of inconsistency in its border restrictions.
“Against the backdrop of having an international event and trying to maintain normalcy – it’s okay,” Constance said.
“But I think this falls short is the inconsistency in their decision making.
“Through 2021, we need consistency around the trigger points these state restrictions are going to have or else it will just destroy jobs.”