Labor Wins Third Term in Australia’s Queensland State Election

Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk has claimed victory in Australia’s Queensland state election, a vote that was seen as a referendum on the center-left government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

The win means a third term for the party in Australia’s third-most populous state known for its beaches and the Great Barrier Reef. Labor is on track to win as many as 52 of the parliament’s 93 seats, with the main opposition Liberal National Party, led by Deb Frecklington, expected to take 34, according to projections from national broadcasterABC.

The state government has imposed strict border restrictions in place to keep Covid-19 case numbers under control, a move which had widespread voter support. It also faced criticism from Prime Minister Scott Morrison, whosaid it has impeded Australia’s ability to emerge from a recession.

In her victory speech, Palasczcuk acknowledged the toll that the pandemic had exacted on the state’s economy.

“Because of Covid, many, many people have lost their jobs through no fault of their own,” she said. “We need to have a strong recovery plan. This has been a tough year and we have got to get people back into work.”

Palaszczuk said Friday Queensland will re-open its border to regional visitors from New South Wales, the most-populous state, beginning Nov. 3. The announcement was closely watched by tourism operators and small businesses, who are seeking more interstate visitors as the summer vacation season looms.

Still, visitors from Sydney — New South Wales’ largest city — and from Victoria state won’t be able to cross the border for now.

The decision has been described by Qantas Airways Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce as “ridiculous,” AAP reported, while New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it lacked logic and common sense.

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