National cabinet has agreed to reduce the chance of lockdowns and reopen the country when vaccine coverage hits 70 and 80 per cent.
But consensus has frayed with Western Australia not budging from its zero-case goal and Queensland warning it may not reopen its NSW border even at the higher threshold.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly believes eliminating all cases is not achievable in the long-term.
Professor Kelly said even New Zealand, which is pursuing an elimination goal, was coping with an outbreak in Auckland.
"The whole of national cabinet, including the West Australian premier, did sign up to the plan only a couple of weeks ago," he said.
He said Pacific countries cut off from the world were the only places with zero cases.
Updated Doherty Institute modelling will be presented to a national cabinet meeting on Friday.
Deputy Nationals leader David Littleproud said state leaders needed to give the public confidence and hope about the path out of the pandemic.
"When we have premiers trying to outdo one another it really doesn't help," he told ABC radio on Monday.
"We can't stay under the doona forever - at some point we're going to have to come out."
Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles urged the prime minister to show leadership.
"We're getting this debate at the moment because we don't have leadership from the federal government," he told Sky News.
"Scott Morrison has gone missing and he's struggling to get all the states on the same page."
Liberal frontbencher Amanda Stoker said Australians could expect the federal government to take strong action against the states if they did not stick to the deal.
"It's not right for the states to start trying to move the goal posts or play games in their own interests when it's Australians who are paying the price," she told Nine.
Qantas boss Alan Joyce said it would be a "terrible shame" if the agreement was not maintained and challenged premiers to explain how life would return to normal.
"There would be a big backlash if people can maybe even go to London and visit relatives there is for Christmas but can't go to Perth to visit their relatives," he told the ABC.
Australia has fully vaccinated 30 per cent of its population aged 16 and above, while 52 per cent have had one jab.
NSW reported a record 830 new local cases and three deaths on Sunday, while Victoria had 65 cases.
The ACT recorded 19 new cases but authorities put the rise down to a change in the reporting cut-off time.