Mr ENTSCH: Tourism is the single-most important economic driver in my electorate, and to say that we’ve been doing it tough is an absolute understatement.
We were the first region to be hit and we’ll be one of the last to recover.
Our multi-billion-dollar local tourism industry literally fell off the cliff overnight.
The impact has been, quite simply, devastating.
Cairns has become the second-most severely affected regional city in Australia in terms of the percentage of jobs lost and the loss of gross domestic product.
This is reflected in the statistics that were released yesterday.
We are No. 5 in the numbers of people accessing JobKeeper.
That shows the impact of that.
More than $850 million has already been lost in tourism to date, with the loss forecast at $2.5 billion in 2020.
The distance of Cairns from metropolitan capitals and its reliance on tourism and aviation mean economic recovery times are likely to be much longer than in other parts of the country.
However, we’re being forced to begin our road to recovery with one hand tied behind our back.
The mixed messaging from the Queensland government regarding border closures is doing untold damage to local tourism businesses.
One minute it’s July, then it’s September, and then it’s beyond September, but it’s okay to protest in Brisbane, where we saw 30,000 people packed shoulder-to-shoulder for the weekend.
Every day our border remains closed, Cairns and Far North Queensland miss out on the opportunity to attract the southern tourists that many local operators and businesses rely on.
Southern tourists are already looking to book holidays, especially during the upcoming school holiday period, but, sadly, the message to them is that Queensland is closed for business.
The Queensland government’s handling of the Cook Shire is another absolute debacle.
Cook Shire was, for some unexplained reason that only the state government can tell us, included in the biosecurity region of Cape York.
They made a big song and dance when they announced Queensland was open for Queenslanders, but they failed to mention that it didn’t include Cook Shire.
Within the boundary, there is not a single remote Indigenous community, so it beggars belief that it was included.
Once again, the mixed message is doing untold damage to businesses in Cooktown and right across the Peninsula Developmental Road.
It’s crazy that we’re seeing this continue to happen.
The inconsistencies are unbelievable.
Yesterday, the health minister signed off on the biosecurity for all of Queensland, removing Queensland from biosecurity restraints as of midnight tonight.
So, tomorrow, Friday—from one minute past midnight tonight—Queensland should be open for business, including Cape York and the businesses there.
I’m calling on the Premier to make sure that happens.
We just cannot allow this to continue to happen.
It has a massive impact on the businesses.
They’ve got to start trading and they’ve got to start trading tomorrow.