Premier accused of ‘economic vandalism’ over border
OPPOSITION leader Deb Frecklington has outlined how she would have handled the border closure, saying the execution was "botched from the start".
The MP from Nanango said the State Government was right to close the border, but caused "chaos and confusion" when key information was announced via Twitter.
"I would have given businesses the clarity and certainty they needed by developing a clear plan to reopen the border and sticking to it," Ms Frecklington told The Bulletin.
"The health crisis needed to be stopped from becoming an economic crisis and that rested on opening the intestate border as soon as possible.
"The Gold Coast economy doesn't function without tourists, it's as simple as that.
"Setting a date and sticking to it would have given businesses certainty to plan their reopening, airlines could schedule their flights to the Gold Coast, and tourists could plan their holiday here."
The Queensland Government roadmap cites July 10 as the planned date to reopen the borders.
But Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has been reluctant to guarantee that date, saying the decision would be made on health advice at the time.
For Gold Coast businesses the economic impact has been severe.
While Ms Frecklington agreed closing the borders was the right decision to protect Queenslanders, she claims the execution was "botched" leaving businesses and families in limbo.
She also believes residents living within 100kms should have been free to cross the border.
"The principle of the border closure was correct to flatten the curve, but its implementation has been botched from the start," Ms Frecklington said.
"Annastacia Palaszczuk caused chaos and confusion when she closed the borders via Twitter in March and then contradicted her own road map when she stated borders would not reopen until September."
Ms Frecklington said the ongoing border closure was having a social cost as well as an economic one.
"The border closure has torn families apart and crippled local businesses. Sons and daughters have been unable to visit their mums and dads over the border," Ms Frecklington said.
"It has divided communities on the border and cost local jobs.
"Behind the counter of empty restaurants, in the office of empty caravan parks, behind the wheel of empty taxis are Queenslanders who are struggling desperately to pay their bills and put food on their table.
"Annastacia Palaszczuk's flip-flopping on the border is nothing more than economic vandalism."
Ms Frecklington said small business owners on the Gold Coast felt they were being ignored by the government.
"For some Queensland businesses, up to 80 per cent of their customers come from New South Wales so the border closure has really devastated their bottom line," she said.
"They are desperate for a date for the border to reopen, they feel like the Labor Government isn't listening to them, and they just want business to go back to normal again.
"I understand the frustrations of business owners who have had to shut down and do the right thing, while 30,000 people were allowed to protest in Brisbane.
"Getting the border open is the first step to restarting the economy and getting small businesses firing on all cylinders again."
Tuesday, 16 June – coronavirus cases in Queensland:— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) June 15, 2020
• 0 new confirmed cases
• 5 active cases
• 1,065 total confirmed cases
• 254,554 tests conducted
Sadly, six Queenslanders with COVID-19 have died. 1,051 patients have recovered.#COVID_19 pic.twitter.com/HwXwL66Jcd
The State Government has maintained all restrictions would be reviewed at the end of the month and the border would be opened on, or before, July 10 "if safe to do so".
Speaking in state parliament this week, Ms Palaszczuk defended her government's stance on the issue, saying Queenslanders "do not want the border opened."
"We have put in place a very clear road map. The Prime Minister has said July. Our road map says July. And we're gearing up to that.... we will assess it at the end of the month," she said.
Originally published as Premier accused of 'economic vandalism' over border