Our fraying interstate solidarity appears to have finally snapped.
The national cabinet, which will meet on Friday, has for months been defined by tit-for-tats along party lines. By Wednesday, it was a free-for-all.
Chastened by the Delta strain, Australia's two biggest states have officially abandoned any pretenses of Covid-zero. Lockdowns are now a waiting game as the population limps to 70 and 80 per cent vaccination, outlined by the Doherty Institute as triggers for reopening.
A three-month lockdown in 2020 taught Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to go hard and go early, in a bid to eradicate the virus. But as he announced another 120 locally acquired cases on Wednesday, he conceded that game was over.
"We have thrown everything at this, but it is now clear to us that we are not going to drive these numbers down. They are instead going to increase," he told reporters.
Victoria has now joined NSW in tethering its hopes to the Doherty targets, spruiked by Premier Gladys Berejiklian as a ticket to normality.
"Please expect to do all of those things we have been missing for too long," she told Sunrise.
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But as NSW and Victoria closed the gap in their approach, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was widening fissures.
Calls to add the 12- to 15-year-old cohort, now eligible for the Pfizer jab, to Doherty's modelling have been shot down by the Commonwealth. And days before fronting her interstate colleagues, Ms Palaszczuk unveiled a new avenue of attack.
"I honestly believe that we need further research done on what happens to the zero- to 12-year-old cohort as they remain unvaccinated," she told Queensland Parliament.
As the landscape shifts in the east, all is not quiet on the western front.
The Prime Minister spent question time distancing himself from Clive Palmer's failed bid to topple WA's hard border, briefly backed by the Commonwealth. But his Attorney-General, Michaelia Cash, was warning News Corp that hard borders, threatened by Premier Mark McGowan, may be legally unsustainable in the long-term.
His response did little to dispel the tension. "If they want to bring on round two, let them," he said.
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