Deputy: 'We're not trigger-happy on borders'

 

Deputy Premier Steven Miles says Queensland has not taken a "trigger-happy" approach to border closures, as tourism operators question the effectiveness of a Federal Government subsidised airfare deal.

And he accused Prime Minister Scott Morrison of hating parts of the state on the back of the Federal Government's airfare rollout.

It comes as NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said Queensland's tourism troubles were "entirely self-inflicted".

Speaking on air with 2GB host Ben Fordham, she said the Federal Government plan could have done more for NSW.

"I am a bit disappointed. Sydney in particular has been smashed by COVID," she said.

"The tourist problem in Queensland is entirely self-inflicted."

Mr Miles said the state had "consistently taken the health advice".

"While I understand that that's had a disproportionate effect on some industries, our entire economy is benefiting right now from that approach."

Deputy Premier Steven Miles speaks during Queensland Parliament question time. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jono Searle
Deputy Premier Steven Miles speaks during Queensland Parliament question time. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jono Searle

Mr Miles accused the Morrison Government of hating Townsville and Hervey Bay after it announced cheaper flights for around Australia.

"Similarly, Queensland is the tourism heart of the country," he said.

"Why should people who live in Brisbane be excluded from visiting places in their own state, supporting places in their state.

"We've seen overnight, they've (Federal Government) already started adding places.

"We'd really like to see Townsville and Hervey Bay added, we'd also like people in the southeast to be allowed to travel to the north."

Meanwhile, Mr Miles remained tight-lipped on whether the state would hold another $200 travel voucher giveaway, saying the government would monitor its success before making any decisions.

Tourism, business and civic leaders cautiously welcomed the huge airfare stimulus package, featuring 800,000 half-price airfares to destinations including the Gold Coast and Cairns, but warned it was "not a silver bullet" and said some areas would miss out.

But Greyhound said the aviation-focused package was a "death warrant" for tour bus lines and "a lethal dagger aimed at the heart of the industry".

White water rafting on the Barron River in Cairns will be one of the major beneficiaries of half-price airfares.
White water rafting on the Barron River in Cairns will be one of the major beneficiaries of half-price airfares.

Premier Palaszczuk welcomed the airfare deal but demanded Canberra provide more.

"It's good but unfortunately, it's not good enough," she said.

"Much more direct support is still needed for the many tourism operators impacted by the end of JobKeeper.

"I'm calling on the Federal Government to provide subsidised flights from Brisbane to Cairns to help further stimulate tourism demand in Far North Queensland."

Queensland Tourism Industry Council CEO Daniel Gschwind said there were winners and losers from the announcement. While the Gold and Sunshine coasts, Cairns and Whitsundays would benefit, others areas would be 'less impressed',

"We welcome the support (but) it is disappointing that there is no direct and immediate support for struggling tourism businesses around the country, still crippled by international border closures and disrupted domestic travel patterns," he said.

New Destination Gold Coast chief executive Patricia O'Callaghan at Gold Coast Airport with Airport boss Chris Mills. Photo: Scott Powick
New Destination Gold Coast chief executive Patricia O'Callaghan at Gold Coast Airport with Airport boss Chris Mills. Photo: Scott Powick

 

"Without the ongoing wage support for tourism and hospitality businesses, there is a potential for significant job losses."

Amanda Rohan, from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland, said some businesses might not survive long enough to enjoy the benefits of the expected tourism rush.

"Right now, businesses in heavily impacted tourism regions are concerned about how they will keep the lights on and pay their staff when JobKeeper ends this month," she said.

"While the holiday stimulus scheme will hopefully create a surge of visitors to our regions, creating a boost of economic activity, that boost won't happen immediately, and it won't help pay the bills or staffing costs before they arrive."

The rescue package's focus on aviation was labelled a 'death warrant' for tour buses by Greyhound bus boss Alex de Waal.

Greyhound Australia CEO Alex de Waal.
Greyhound Australia CEO Alex de Waal.

 

"The decision is illogical, discriminatory and anti-competitive," he said.

"Greyhound has survived bruised and battered from COVID and we are taking another hit when Jobkeeper ends at the end of the month, but this is the biggest blow of all and it may not be survivable.

"There could not be a more lethal dagger aimed at the heart of the

industry at the worst possible moment."

However, Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef, where tourism operators have been bleeding for months, stand to be major beneficiaries, with the initiative predicted to inject about $1 million a day into the region.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland CEO Mark Olsen said the airfare drive was 'a step in the right direction' while Destination Gold Coast boss Patricia O'Callaghan was also buoyed.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Member, Cairns MP Michael Healy, Tourism Tropical North Queensland CEO Mark Olsen and Skyrail chairman Ken Chapman hold crisis talks in Cairns. Picture: Brendan Radke
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Member, Cairns MP Michael Healy, Tourism Tropical North Queensland CEO Mark Olsen and Skyrail chairman Ken Chapman hold crisis talks in Cairns. Picture: Brendan Radke

 

Ms O'Callaghan said the Coast's $6 billion tourism industry had taken a $3 billion hit last year - losing one million international tourists - and the airfare initiative would help the sector 'get back to its feet'.

"The feedback from our industry is that whilst this is not a silver bullet, it is a very positive step forward. We know it will stimulate people to travel to the Gold Coast," she said.

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said he was 'jubilant' at the federal announcement and urged Aussies to 'pack your sunscreen, boardies and budgie-smugglers' and come to the Coast.

But he said the Queensland border had to remain open if the initiative was to work.

"Keep it open … give us certainty and confidence," he said.

"The will of Australians is that there should be no borders in between us. I know she's (Ms Palaszczuk) being advised by the chief medical officer but, what do they say? Don't be trigger-happy."

Sydney tourists Alex Dimovska and Rosina Jimenez have been enjoying their first-ever visit to Cairns after a planned trip to Mexico was ruined because of the pandemic.

They said the lure of half price airfares would be an 'amazing' excuse to return to North Queensland.

 

Originally published as 'Death warrant': Travel CEO slams cheap airfare deal



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