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Friday, April 16, 2021

Queensland’s tourism industry is on its knees – and now Annastacia Palaszczuk wants a bail out

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With Queensland‘s tourism industry in dire straits, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has pleaded with the federal government for a multi-million dollar JobKeeper extension.

The remarkable plea for tax-payer funded help prompted NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet to come out swinging, accusing the Queensland government of asking taxpayers to bail the state out for the economic hit from its own border closures.

The ongoing closures also saw thousands of businesses crippled financially in the Sunshine State, with holidays cancelled last minute after borders were slammed shut not one but three times.

‘Queensland, closed one day, asking someone else to pick up the tab the next,’ Mr Perrottet said.

‘People in NSW have not only been banned from entering Queensland, but now Queensland wants the taxpayers of NSW to pay for that decision.’ 

The picturesque Gold Coast (pictured) has been crippled by the lockdown in Queensland - with interstate travellers banned for months and thousands of holidays cancelled

The picturesque Gold Coast (pictured) has been crippled by the lockdown in Queensland – with interstate travellers banned for months and thousands of holidays cancelled

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (pictured above) has called on the federal government to extend JobKeeper beyond March as her state struggles economically

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (pictured above) has called on the federal government to extend JobKeeper beyond March as her state struggles economically

Closing Queensland’s borders to Greater Sydney during the Christmas period alone is estimated to have cost the state’s economy $200million.

Meanwhile, after taking a proportionate response to the pandemic, $7billion was saved by NSW avoiding a hard lockdown.

On Thursday, Ms Palaszczuk stunned many by calling for the federal government to extend JobKeeper to industries including tourism ­operators ‘as a matter of ­urgency’.

She then outlined how vital the NSW market was to Queensland businesses, just weeks after shutting out Greater Sydney residents to her state over the Christmas-New Year period. 

Queensland Tourism Industry Council CEO Daniel Gschwind estimated that the state lost more than $200million by closing the border to Greater Sydney from December through to January, according to the Daily Telegraph.

She originally closed the state border back in March, before opening it and swinging the doors shut again on August 1.

QUEENSLAND VS NEW SOUTH: IN NUMBERS

$200million: The cost of the Christmas border closure to New South Wales

$6.5million: The cost of border closures to Queensland tourism

$7billion: Money saved by NSW avoiding hard lockdown 

$1.5billion: The weekly cost of extending stay-at-home orders across Sydney

$3billion: The amount tourists from NSW spend in Queensland annually 

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In a stream of endless yoyoing, the border was later opened to many states before strict closures came in again right before Christmas.

With the Queensland border finally open again to Greater Sydney residents from February 1 – after 11 days of zero new local cases in NSW –  Palaszcsuk is encouraging those in the Harbour City to head north in droves next month.     

‘There are going to be a lot of people in that Greater Sydney region that want to come back and see family and friends,’ she said.  

‘Perhaps Scott Morrison and the federal government could look at those industries like tourism that are doing it tough. Maybe JobKeeper does need to be extended for some industries beyond March.’

Mr Perrottet said the Queensland request proved the value in NSW adopting a measured response to outbreaks.   

‘It’s very easy to have a blanket decision to shut borders but there are economic downstream consequences and Queensland are seeing that,’ he said. 

‘She (Palaszczuk) is asking us to pay for her decision to lock us out.’ 

The usually bustling Gold Coast (pictured on August 4) resembled a ghost town at the height of the pandemic and when the government banned residents from Greater Sydney

The usually bustling Gold Coast (pictured on August 4) resembled a ghost town at the height of the pandemic and when the government banned residents from Greater Sydney

Border closures in Queensland (pictured, the border at Coolangatta on December 21, 2020) have frustrated many and have been labelled 'draconian'

Border closures in Queensland (pictured, the border at Coolangatta on December 21, 2020) have frustrated many and have been labelled ‘draconian’

The Palaszczuk government has often been accused of playing politics with the pandemic, closing borders after just handfuls of cases popped up.

There have also been numerous incidents when innocent Australians were banned from the state or forced into quarantine despite desperately trying to see sick family.

Ms Palaszczuk said she was ‘delighted’ the border would open after the state’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young gave the all-clear on Thursday.

‘If anyone’s down there in NSW or Victoria and you’re thinking about having a holiday, come up to Cairns,’ she told the Today show. 

‘Everyone is here, ready and willing to welcome you with open arms and a friendly smile.

Queensland has enjoyed relative normality for many months (pictured, a Brisbane shopper on January 22) but Christmas border closures cost them $200million

Queensland has enjoyed relative normality for many months (pictured, a Brisbane shopper on January 22) but Christmas border closures cost them $200million

Queensland had instituted the border closure after an outbreak of Covid-19 on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and subsequently in the western suburbs.

The Queensland government had previously held firm to a policy of shutting out travellers from declared hotspots until they went 28 days without a mystery case of COVID-19. 

‘The hotspot program has been working very well, especially when we had the lockdown in greater Brisbane, where I put to the National Cabinet everyone else should declare greater Brisbane a hotspot because I did,’ Ms Palaszczuk said. 

‘Credit to NSW, they got on top of their cases.’

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured) saved $7billion by avoiding plunging her state into a hard lockdown - unlike her Queensland counterpart whose decisions have cost millions

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured) saved $7billion by avoiding plunging her state into a hard lockdown – unlike her Queensland counterpart whose decisions have cost millions

She said her government’s decision would hopefully signal the full re-opening of state borders across Australia.

JobKeeper, a financial support program set up to help businesses keep staff on the books during the pandemic, has been extended several times but is now due to end on March 28 – a year after it was introduced.

The scheme gives eligible workers $1,000 fortnightly payments if their industry has seen a significant downturn – deemed a 30 per cent revenue loss for small businesses and 50 per cent for large ones.

It helps to cover the cost of keeping staff employed despite income dropping. 

This post was first published on DailyMail.

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