No particular place to go

15 May 2020 | Ideas@TheCentre

Queensland has just had its first weekends with some restrictions removed — we were allowed to drive 50km from our homes and there was some relaxation on visiting parks.
No reasons were given in either policy or medical terms as to why 50km. Why not 55km or just 10km?
Previously, leaving home to go for a drive was banned, though there was some confusion as the official message on public transport was ‘stay home if sick’. Not just stay home.
Indeed, no clear public policy reason, and certainly no medical reason, was provided as to why you could not drive previously either alone or with your family anywhere.
But the 50km rule is even more inexplicable.
It means that from where I live in Brisbane’s Ashgrove, just 4km from the GPO, I can only drive as far north as Caboolture, as far west as Ipswich and south almost to Logan.
Perhaps the aim of the 50km rule, not articulated of course by the Premier, was really to stop Brisbane people going to the Sunshine Coast or the Gold Coast for fears it might create some major traffic jam as often occurs on holidays (and this week-end is a long one).
Of course, the other problem with the 50km rule is while it might make some sense to stop a traffic jam to the nearby coasts, it is not fair to regional Queensland.
Queensland is not only a big place, but also a highly decentralised one. If you live in regional Queensland (where there are no virus cases) travelling a few hundred kilometres for a day out is not unusual. Also, if you reside in a small country community, the next large regional centre is often more than 50km.
The Queensland government is making Brisbane-centric only policies, reflecting its own base but not the wider community’s needs.
Just like the Queensland government’s decision not to open schools despite the advice from the national medical committee of experts to do so, the 50km rule does not make sense.
The government should produce the medical evidence for its policy.
The 50km rule has given Queenslanders a little bit of freedom but it was a tight leash that gave us, if not no particular place to go, certainly not many choices of places to go.
This is an edited extract of an opinion piece published by Spectator online as Round, round, get around, don’t get around.

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