Shark Tank judge lashes Premier for economic drought

A FORMER senior Palaszczuk Government adviser has accused the Premier of sending the economy into a "government-enforced drought" with the continued border lockdown.

The damaging claim from former chief entrepreneur and Shark Tank judge Steve Baxter came as a Queensland minister would not to say if there was any modelling on the economic impact of keeping the borders closed.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says Queensland’s border closures may stay in place until September. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says Queensland’s border closures may stay in place until September. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England

 

And the Morrison Government switched the focus of its border war attack with Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham promising to turn from critic to "singing her praises" if Annastacia Palaszczuk opened the borders and elevated herself as the leader of the other lockdown states.

"If Premier Palaszczuk can be the first premier of those states with restrictions to acknowledge Australia's nationwide progress in suppressing the spread of COVID-19 and begin planning to safely ease border restrictions, then I will sing her praises from the rooftops and applaud the fact that she's shown that sort of leadership," he told The Courier-Mail.

 

 

"Tourism businesses currently have no choice and no access to international visitors and if we also leave them with no access to interstate visitors, then they're going to be bleeding in terms of viability and job losses for a long time."

Mr Baxter, who was the face of tech-investment and start-ups in Queensland for one year as chief entrepreneur, said Ms Palaszczuk must be held accountable for the economic damage of the border closure.

"Can you imagine a drought through the entire non agricultural sector of Queensland and its actually government-enforced drought?" he said.

"If you look at all the well-publicised health and other knock-on effects that droughts have, well you're getting that writ large through every sector."

 

Shark Tank judge Steve Baxter was once the state’s chief entrepreneur during the Palaszczuk Government. Picture: AAP Image/Steve Pohlner
Shark Tank judge Steve Baxter was once the state’s chief entrepreneur during the Palaszczuk Government. Picture: AAP Image/Steve Pohlner

 

Mr Baxter, a states' rights advocate, said Queensland borders closure was only possible because the Federal Government was footing the bill for JobKeeper and JobSeeker.

"The Federal Government is propping up Queensland workers while the state is shutting itself down and I find the lack of alignment in that equation to be part of the problem."

When asked if she was aware if any modelling had been done on the economic impact of keeping the borders closed, Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones would not say. But she insisted the government was focused on keeping Queenslanders safe, "so we can get the fastest economic recovery we can".

"The Premier has made it very clear what her position is and what the Government's position is when it comes to the borders," she said.

"The Premier will be making further decisions about restrictions on Sunday. I support the Premier 100 per cent.

"The last thing we want is to reopen, to turn around and have to shut down again. That would be devastating for thousands of jobs and the Queensland economy."

 

Tourism Minister Kate Jones says the government doesn’t want to shut down Queensland again. Picture: Jerad Williams
Tourism Minister Kate Jones says the government doesn’t want to shut down Queensland again. Picture: Jerad Williams

 

Ms Jones said they were already on the record that the cost to Queensland's tourism industry because of the impact of COVID-19 was in the billions.

"Of course that immediate impact was felt when the federal government closed the borders of Australia to the rest of the world," she said.

"And they did that for the same reason that we're maintaining our borders here in Queensland. It's about safety and it's about lives."

Originally published as Premier 'responsible for economic drought'