Josh Frydenberg has called the Queensland deputy premier a ‘stumbling, bumbling lightweight that no-one’s ever heard of’ in a savage put-down on live TV.
The federal treasurer slammed Steven Miles on Friday morning in an ongoing clash over ADF troops at the Queensland border.
Earlier this week Dr Miles accused the federal government of deliberately removing troops to pressure Queensland to open its borders and asked him to apologise for ‘attacking’ the state government.
Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles has accused the federal government of deliberately removing troops (pictured) to pressure Queensland to open its borders
He also accused Mr Fydenberg of falsely claiming the state had not asked to keep troops at the border beyond the agreed end date of September 30.
The treasurer, who has denied lying and said the removal of troops is not political, savaged Dr Miles in an interview on Nine’s Today Show.
‘He’s a stumbling, bumbling, lightweight that no-one’s ever heard of who’s just made it up as he goes,’ the treasurer said.
‘I was asked a question on radio yesterday whether the government’s movement of ADF Troops was designed to deliberately damage Queensland’s border policy.
‘And I said that was absolutely rubbish and then he goes and holds a press conference asking me to apologise. For what?’
‘This guy, just as (Home Affairs Minister) Peter Dutton said earlier, is just seeking to pick a fight, to play politics, to play politics with the pandemic… to play politics with the deployment of ADF troops. I mean, that guy should just grow up.’
In early August the federal government agreed to provide about 150 troops to man Queensland’s border checkpoints until 30 September.
On Monday Queensland State Disaster Coordinator Steve Gollschewski wrote to federal officials asking for continued support.
But it will not be extended as the ADF is ‘prioritising its resources’ to focus on hotel quarantine and preparation for the bushfire season, a defence department spokesman said.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Wednesday: ‘We would like to see continued support on our borders… I would urge the Commonwealth Government to reconsider their decision.’
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is pictured on Thursday in Parliament House
On Wednesday Dr Miles slammed the federal government for not extending the border support, claiming the decision was politically motivated.
‘There’s no secret that the prime minister doesn’t like our strong border protections, but they have kept us safe,’ he said.
‘The ADF shouldn’t be used as a bargaining chip in what is an ongoing political attack from the federal government on the state government.
‘Our policies have worked and they should back off.’
On Thursday morning Mr Frydenberg was asked about the dispute on ABC radio.
Dr Miles believed the treasurer said in that interview that Queensland did not ask for an extension and later that morning accused him of lying.
The deputy premier handed out letters to journalists showing the state government had asked the federal government to extend the ADF employment until October 19.
‘This is yet another example of a federal government minister being sent out by the prime minister to attack our government,’ Dr Miles said.
But Mr Frydenberg later denied saying Queensland had not asked for an extension, and said of Dr Miles ‘he obviously can’t read’.
‘The question that was put to me was whether the movement of ADF personnel was designed deliberately to sabotage Queensland’s border policy,’ Mr Frydenberg told Sky News.
‘I’ve never heard such rubbish, he should not be so loose with his language’
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Wednesday: ‘We would like to see continued support on our borders.’ Pictured: A police road block
Meanwhile, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has refused to cave in to pressure to reopen to all of NSW, saying the chief health officer has advised her that all of the southern state is a Covid-19 hotspot.
But critics say that doesn’t make sense with few cases of community spread outside of Sydney.
Mr Dutton claimed Ms Palaszczuk was acting for political advantage rather than on health advice.
‘It was always based on the fact that Queensland is going to an election in a few weeks and the premier was desperate to make sure there was no outbreak,’ he told Nine’s Today program on Friday.
From Friday, the state will allow up to 30 people to gathering without a COVID-safe plan and people can visit aged care homes and hospitals.
As well, ACT resident can now fly to Queensland without having to go into quarantine.
Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner of specialist Operations Steve Gollschewski reminded visitors from the nation’s capital they can only travel by air and must have a pass.
‘They can fly in, they can expect to be still processed at the border. Police will check they have a valid pass,’ he told Nine’s Today program.
Queensland has recorded no community spread of the virus for more than 14 days and reported just five active cases on Thursday.
Josh Frydenberg has called the Queensland deputy premier (pictured) a ‘stumbling, bumbling lightweight that no-one’s ever heard of’ in a savage put-down on live TV