For much of the pandemic, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has overseen perhaps the strictest border measures in Australia at an enormous cost to the state’s business sector.
But her sudden plea – and demand – for support for the devastated tourism sector has sparked a backlash from her political counterparts.
Yesterday, Ms Palaszczuk issued an emotional call for Australians to plan holidays in the Sunshine State, particularly in the hard-hit Cairns region.
The premier also issued a demand for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to “step up” and extend the JobKeeper pandemic support package beyond its upcoming expiry date.
New South Wales Treasurer Dominic Perrottet today lashed Ms Palaszczuk’s demand, accusing her of “asking us to pay for her decision to lock us out”.
“Queensland, closed one day, asking someone else to pick up the tab the next,” Mr Perrottet told The Daily Telegraph.
“People in NSW have not only been banned from entering Queensland, but Queensland wants the taxpayers of NSW to pay for that decision.
“It’s very easy to have a blanket decision to shut borders but there are economic downstream consequences and Queensland are seeing that. At the end of the day, someone has to pay for that.
“It’s the Australian taxpayer, whether its in Queensland or NSW or anywhere else, who they are asking to pick up the tab for their decision.”
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg also slapped down Ms Palaszczuk’s JobKeeper suggestion.
“When you look at the facts, they tell a very powerful story about the unprecedented economic support that the Morrison government has provided to Queensland,” Mr Frydenberg told Sky News.
“We have delivered more than three times what the Queensland government has committed to. So we would welcome further announcements from by the Palaszczuk government, indeed from all state governments, to reach into their pockets and provide the support that is necessary as part of Australia’s economic recovery.
“Certainly the Morrison government has been doing the bulk of the heavy lifting and will continue to support Queenslanders with substantial economic measures.”
Queensland has taken a hard line approach to its borders and Ms Palaszczuk has repeatedly butted heads with other state and territory leaders over keeping her state shut, despite few coronavirus cases around the nation.
Ms Palaszczuk’s relationship with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has been especially strained throughout the pandemic, with Greater Sydney repeatedly locked out of the sunshine state over the past year.
One example of their fraught relationship came yesterday when Ms Berejiklian found out live on radio that Ms Palaszczuk had announced she would be reopening her state to Greater Sydney on February 1.
It’s not the first time the Queensland premier has made crucial decisions without advising other leaders.
Taking to Twitter yesterday, Ms Palaszczuk said “it would be a mistake to take (JobKeeper) away completely before international borders are able to safely reopen”.
“Today I’m calling on the Prime Minister, as a matter of urgency, to consider extending JobKeeper for the industries doing it tough.”
JobKeeper is due to end on March 28, after it was extended in July 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Many businesses fear the end of the scheme, that has cost the federal government more than $100 billion, could impact them getting back on their feet.
Speaking to reporters after her border announcement, Ms Palaszczuk urged tourists from Sydney to book an “escape” to Queensland’s far north where businesses are “doing it tough”.
NSW residents spend big on domestic tourism, with recent figures suggesting the Sydney summer shutout cost the industry $7 billion nationwide.
Queensland Tourism Industry Council CEO Daniel Gschwind told The Daily Telegraph he believed his state had lost around $200 million from closing the border to Greater Sydney from December to January.
NSW represented about 30 per cent of the $10 billion generated by tourism in Queensland in 2019, Mr Gschwind added.
“Our industry will still be in desperate need of assistance going forward,” he said.