Elias Visontay| The Guardian
The South Australian premier, Steven Marshall, federal senators and the state’s largest newspaper have launched a barrage of insults attacking the Victorian leader, Daniel Andrews, after he openly asked why anyone would want to travel to South Australia.
Andrews was responding to a South Australian government decision to reopen its borders to people from Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania from Wednesday, while still requiring visitors from eastern states to quarantine upon entry.
Andrews launched the first sledge westwards when he said “I don’t want to be offensive to South Australians but why would you want to go there?” in response to a question about the border decision at a press conference on Wednesday morning.
This prompted Marshall to swiftly tweet a video of Andrews, featuring his comments overlaid with a South Australia tourism promotional video of young tourists swimming, camping and driving along the state’s picturesque coastline.
“Daniel Andrews asked why anyone would want to go to South Australia … Well Dan, here’s why,” Marshall tweeted.
The South Australian senator Andrew McLachlan followed Marshall into battle to defend his state, tweeting a “response to comments by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews asking why anyone would want to go to South Australia” that consisted of just three words.
The federal tourism and trade minister, Simon Birmingham, hours before announcing free-trade negotiations with the UK and New Zealand, also found time to return Andrews’ fire, saying his question asking who would want to travel to South Australia sounded “like a desperate distraction from Dan Andrews, who clearly thinks that sparking up a cheap tit-for-tat war of words with another state might distract people from the endemic corruption within the Victorian Labor party”.
Andrews appeared to have hit a nerve in the South Australian psyche, with Adelaide daily the Advertiser splashing its website on Wednesday afternoon with the headline “Scandal-ridden Premier of virus-plagued state sledges SA”.
The article featured a poll asking readers “where would you rather be?” with two options: “freezing cold, virus-plagued, closed-for-business Melbourne” or “idyllic, virus-free, re-opening Adelaide”.
As of 1pm, 94% of readers had voted for Adelaide.
Other Twitter users pointed out South Australian attractions and delicacies, including Farmers Union Iced Coffee and the Barossa wine region.
Dan Andrews’ comment about how South Australia sucks is funny, but right now, during *multiple* health and economic crises, he needs to stay focussed on important things like how NSW sucks.
Despite the outrage Andrews’s comments drew from South Australians, the New South Wales premier, Gladys Berejiklian, also criticised South Australia’s border conditions, saying “I can’t see the logic in it. I think it’s crazy” on Wednesday.
Later on Wednesday afternoon, Andrews acknowledged he had “hit a bit of a sore spot across the border” but defended his remarks.
“We have everything right here in Victoria,” Andrews tweeted. “And if you take your next break in a bushfire-affected community – all the better.”
Matters scarcely improved on Wednesday afternoon, when South Australia’s chief public health officer, Nicola Spurrier, announced that the state had its first case of Covid-19 in three weeks, a man who arrived there having completed quarantine – in Melbourne.See full session on Hansard