THE Queensland coronavirus lock-down has prompted calls for remote areas of the state, including North Queensland, to be quarantined from our southern counterparts.
Katter's Australian Party leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter today said the state government's decision to close Queensland's borders from midnight on Wednesday did not go far enough.
Mr Katter said remote communities in the north, north-west and south-west Queensland were are grave risk of the spread, which thus far has been largely confined to populous areas in the south-east corner.
He suggested policed road closures and strict fever testing at airport arrival gates could help slow the spread and protect vulnerable regions.
Mr Katter said as of this morning, Queensland had reported 319 confirmed cases of the disease, with the bulk of those confined to the south-east.
Only a handful of cases have been confirmed in the North, and Mr Katter said the only way to prevent a wide-spread outbreak for which the state is not prepared would be intra-state quarantine.
He said failing to segregate regional, rural and remote Queensland from the south-east at this time would lead to catastrophe.
Freight and essential travel for medical or vital work-related reasons would be excluded from the shut-down.
"The Premier's call today to shut down Queensland's borders isn't enough - we need the North and the other regions largely unaffected by COVID-19 quarantined now," Mr Katter said.
"Rest assured, this isn't about playing politics and it's not something we call for lightly, this is about giving us all a fighting chance.
"We know this illness will come to all of our communities, however we may still be able to stage its spread.
"We have the advantage of geographic isolation - an asymmetric hit of this virus across Queensland and Australia gives us a chance to distribute critical care resources, such as mechanical ventilators.
"Once the wave of the virus has gone through the south-east and medical demands down there have lessened, we can gradually re-open access to the 'exclusion zone' so that we can utilise available resources from other communities."
Mr Katter said, where necessary, the Australian Defence Force could be engaged to monitor road closures to ensure complete compliance.
Kennedy MP Bob Katter first made the call to close North Queensland last Friday.
"We do not have a mass outbreak of the virus up here, south-east Queensland does," Mr Katter said.
"Our hospitals are not equipped and resourced for a mass outbreak with a critical shortage of items like ventilators.
"This is particularly concerning given our elderly population, with the Hinchinbrook area the oldest electorate in the state.
"The closure of Queensland's borders doesn't protect us from the high number of cases that are spreading in the south-east."
Mr Katter has proposed a border cut off point from Marlborough in the east to Boulia in the west.
"By quarantining North Queensland we lose nothing and there is a very real possibility this action will save 300-400 lives."