Qld’s stance ‘bordering on the ridiculous’
Queensland's borders are set to remain closed to millions of southerners despite mounting pressure on Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to today reopen the state on the eve of the election.
In an extraordinary attack on the Government, two of Queensland's biggest businesses yesterday warned of the wrecking ball to jobs and businesses from continuing border blockades, as it is understood State government officials are in favour of delaying wholesale changes to the controversial travel bans applying to all of Victoria and most of NSW.
Instead, it is expected further regional areas of NSW will be allowed into Queensland, but not Sydney - whose inhabitants pump over $3 billion a year into our state's tourism industry.
The likelihood of continuing border restrictions sparked frustration from leaders at Village Roadshow Theme Parks and Queensland Airports, two of the state's biggest employers, and there are fears almost fully booked flights from Sydney will need to be turned away.
Village Roadshow chief operating officer Bikash Randhawa launched an extraordinary salvo on Twitter after Health Minister Steven Miles suggested the hospitality sector was faring well.
Wow!! @StevenJMiles just said hospitality sector is running as close to normal and doing better🤦🏽 which world is this man living in. We are all bleeding away @GCS_Pottsy @keenatGCB @GCBulletin talk to operators to get a reality check!! #opentheborders #qldpoll @9NewsGoldCoast— Bikash Randhawa (@BikashRandhawa) October 29, 2020
Village chief executive officer Clark Kirby said the continued uncertainty had forced the company to pause plans to hire 500 workers for the traditionally busy summer period.
"Our recruitment depends on the border opening - if it does not reopen, then hundreds of summer jobs on the Gold Coast will be lost," he said.
Queensland Airports CEO Chris Mills warned the future of 3000 tourism businesses and 41,000 jobs on the Gold Coast would be affected by any decision to delay reopening the border to NSW.
Tourism data has revealed that travellers from Victoria and declared COVID hot spots in NSW typically inject about $20 million a day into the Queensland economy.
"We have seen good bookings for the flights from Sydney scheduled next week, and the first flight on Sunday is almost full - to turn them away at short notice would be a real blow to the Gold Coast's recovery," said Mr Mills.
"We don't understand why we have to wait until two days before the potential opening to find out what is happening. Airlines need time to schedule flights, travellers need to book with confidence, and employers need to be able to roster staff accordingly."
Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young has consistently said the trigger to opening the border to NSW was when the state had 28 days of no community transmission.
NSW yesterday recorded four new cases, three of which were a result of community transmission.
Asked yesterday what options she had been given ahead of making the decision, Ms Palaszczuk insisted she had not been given any yet.
"That will come from the Chief Health Officer. That's the way the Chief Health Officer works," she said.
"It's a matter for her. She will advise us and we will tell the public."
It leaves hundreds of Gold Coast hotels and resorts in limbo, including Peppers Soul Surfers Paradise.
Simon McGrath, CEO for Accor Pacific which runs the hotel, said he was hopeful the borders would be reopened.
"People need certainty the borders will reopen before they will plan their holidays," he said. "Confirmation of this will provide a vital lifeline to the many thousands of Queenslanders employed by tourism."
Originally published as State's stance 'bordering on the ridiculous'