'Premier, come see the carnage for yourself'

 

IRATE business leaders have implored Annastacia Palaszczuk to visit the Gold Coast to see firsthand the financial and emotional carnage caused by her refusal to reopen the NSW border.

One chamber of commerce boss said the Queensland Premier had become "arrogant to what's going on on the ground" as businesses were put to the wall and people lost their jobs.

Another leader said operators could "only hold their breath for so long", while a Gold Coast MP told Ms Palaszczuk to stop being a "warrior in William St and a coward in Cavill Ave" and look the owners of downtrodden Glitter Strip businesses in the eye.

The Premier's office was unable to answer Bulletin questions yesterday. However, it said Ms Palaszczuk would visit the Coast "very soon".

The Premier this week said she was concerned that NSW had 33 times Queensland's cases and a high degree of community transfer. Nineteen people had died in one NSW nursing home alone and a school had shut because of an outbreak.

She has said the health of Queenslanders was her first priority.

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Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. (AAP Image/Darren England)
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. (AAP Image/Darren England)

 

Queensland recorded no new cases yesterday, leaving the overall number at 1058.

Frustrated business leaders said the decision to keep up the closed sign - given the low number of new cases - was having an enormous toll on the city's $6 billion tourism mecca and small business sector.

"If the Queensland Premier thinks this virus is going to go away over the next 12 months, and until there's no virus were not going to open the borders, is absolutely ridiculous," Tweed Chamber of Commerce president Warren Polglase said.

"We know that will never happen. The operators have been penalised by the premier in Queensland who is arrogant to what's going on on the ground.

"The medical advice that's been given in New South Wales is yes you can travel; other medical advice from the Queensland Government is no you can't - who do you believe?"

Greater Southern Gold Coast Chamber of Commerce president Hilary Jacobs said "people are getting frustrated" and the Premier should take a trip down the M1 to see the pain for herself.

"It's more than just about being able to walk from one side of the street to the other," she said. "Normally from the June long weekend to October long weekend, we have a very large number of people who come up every year and embed themselves in our community. They are part of our community for three or four months of the year.

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Warren Polglase. Photo: Supplied.
Warren Polglase. Photo: Supplied.

"Those are the people that we desperately need to help us survive through this.

"A lot of these businesses, the hotels, there's nobody there. Without the tourism being allowed, they're going to stay that way. These guys are holding their breath at the moment but you can only hold your breath so long."

Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce president Martin Hall said he "would fully support" inviting the Premier to the Gold Coast. The chamber said it was "drafting a letter to the Premier".

Broadwater MP David Crisafulli told Parliament yesterday he would "like the Premier to come to the Gold Coast and tell those operators why she has pulled the rug out from their livelihood.

"... Look those operators in the eye and give them justification, don't be a warrior in William St and a coward in Cavill Ave."

Mr Crisafulli also questioned the border closure change from a planned July opening to September.

"In the space of 10 days we have seen a road map that was delivered on May 8, which had a July border reopening date, become September, 10 days later, because of one comment on television from the Premier.

Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce President Martin Hall. Picture: Richard Gosling
Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce President Martin Hall. Picture: Richard Gosling

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"What medical advice changed in that 10 days, was there a spike in Queensland? No. Was there a spike interstate? No. There is absolutely nothing that has changed in those 10 days other than a comment on television.

"The Opposition (is) saying stick to the plan."

Destination Gold Coast chief executive Annaliese Battista "encouraged the Premier to visit the Gold Coast and speak with affected tourism and hospitality operators".

"Destination Gold Coast estimates that the economic impact to tourism will range anywhere from $3.3 billion to $4.3 billion in 2020 depending on various factors including the duration and the extent of travel restriction measures."

However, she said that would be magnified if the Queensland Government deferred the reopening of the border to September and not July 10 as earmarked as part of stage 3 restrictions.

"An extra two months restrictions will cost the Gold Coast $500 million in lost tourism business, not to mention the flow-on impacts to the broader economy.

"In 2019, a record 14.2 million visitors came to play on the Gold Coast and total visitor expenditure increased 4.1 per cent to $5.9 billion.

Destination Gold Coast chief executive Annaliese Battista. Photo: Mike Batterham
Destination Gold Coast chief executive Annaliese Battista. Photo: Mike Batterham

"Peak periods are undoubtedly school holidays and we estimate the two months' additional border closures, including over the July school holidays, will mean a $500 million loss to Gold Coast's tourism sector."

Ms Palaszczuk has come under fire this week for saying the border may not reopen until September.

Australia's deputy chief medical officer Professor Paul Kelly said there was no medical reason to keep domestic borders shut and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the decision defied "logic".

Ms Palaszczuk fired back at New South Wales yesterday, claiming "We are not going to be lectured by a state that has the highest number of cases in Australia".

Queensland's chief medical officer Dr Jeannette Young insisted it was best for the state Queensland to keep the border shut for the time being.

"Each state will do what is best for their state and today here in Queensland it is best for us that we continue to minimise movement across domestic borders," she said.

Dr Young said it was not the time for tourists to travel into Queensland because one case could have an "enormous set back".

Originally published as 'Premier, come see the carnage for yourself'



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