Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s leadership team has ramped up its “strong border” rhetoric after Queensland’s mini-budget revealed more job losses and a deficit were coming.
The first two hours of the final sitting of Queensland Parliament before the October 31 election was dominated by borders and the economy, with both parties saying the state poll would be about health and the economy.
While the state’s ability to contain widespread community transmission of coronavirus has allowed cafes, restaurants and shops to trade under COVID-safe plans, the closure of interstate and international borders has sent the tourism industry into freefall.
Ms Palaszczuk and her ministers reiterated the merits of the government’s border policy, while the LNP zeroed in on Labor’s economic record before coronavirus pushed the nation into its deepest economic contraction since the 1930s.
“You cannot have a strong economy unless you get the health response right,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“Our businesses are operating today because of our health response and that includes our strong borders – businesses in other states are not as fortunate.
“Many in other states have opened only to be forced to close again.
“States with the strongest health response are the states with the strongest economies.”
The mini-budget announced on Monday predicted 70,000 more jobs would be lost, after 205,100 were cut across April and May during the hard lockdown period.
Treasurer Cameron Dick said the state’s premier tourism regions – the Gold Coast, Cairns and Sunshine Coast – had suffered the most job losses.
“Between mid-March and April 18, when restrictions first came into effect, around 11 per cent of jobs had been lost on the Gold Coast,” he said.
“As of August 18, jobs had been added on the Gold Coast, so the net loss is now 6 per cent.
Unemployment in Queensland was expected to peak at 9 per cent in December before dropping to 8.5 per cent by the middle of next year.”
Monday’s economic update also revealed the $234 million budget surplus forecast for this financial year turned into an $8.1 billion deficit.
Debt ballooned out to $102 million, over the forward estimates.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison last month said he supported states and territories borrowing more over the next few years while interest rates were low.
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said a victorious LNP would stabilise debt then reduce it, without increasing or introducing new taxes and without privatising any state assets or forcing redundancies in the public service.
Labor will deliver a full budget by the end of November if re-elected while the LNP pledged to do the same by February 2021, if successful in October.
NEWS Credit: Brisbane Times