Premier’s comments infuriate business owners
Angry business owners have slammed Annastacia Palaszczuk's claim businesses are 'back to normal', calling on her to visit the Queensland regions where some are 'bleeding dry'.
A fiery Ms Palaszczuk on Tuesday doubled down on her claim that the majority of Queensland businesses were almost "back to normal" after COVID-19.
The Premier took to Sky News and dismissed questions about whether Queensland's economy was struggling.
"Last week I was up on the Sunshine Coast and I'll tell you what you couldn't get a seat at a cafe or a restaurant," she said.
"Down the Gold Coast they've had bumper crowds.
"Everybody is in the world pandemic, there is no international tourism at the moment - there will not be international tourism for the considerable future."
Ms Palaszczuk's comments have infuriated Cairns Chamber of Commerce President Sally Mlikota, who says many businesses in the tourist town are "bleeding dry".
"There is a very stark difference between the southeast market and Far North Queensland," she said.
"Perhaps we need to get some of those southeast Queensland politicians up to the far north.
"Walk the streets in Cairns and see how the massive reduction of tourism has affected the town."
Adam Hinks, who operates his family run charter business Aquascene at Magnetic Island, said tourism operators were facing a "difficult period" ahead.
"Now comes the difficult period with the (summer) season finishing, support is finishing and now is that tough time until you get to Easter and that's traditionally always tough," he said.
"So I think it all depends on how many acorns people have managed to stash this time around, so the next few months will show the weak links in the chain."
Mr Hinks said while the Townsville region tourism operators were managing to stay afloat, his business was still running below average and he feared the combination of flooding and coronavirus restrictions could make things worse.
"As a whole, Townsville has done reasonably well, I think you'll find as a region we've weathered the storm but it could've been a lot worse," Mr Hinks said.
"I worry with La Nina up here and that little lockdown scare that it might put the brakes on the movement of tourists in Queensland."
The weekend's lockdown of Greater Brisbane prompted some businesses to close, robbing many casual workers of desperately needed income after the Christmas period.
Jake Wood, 29, who works behind the bar at White Lies Brewing at Sumner in Brisbane's southwest, said he lost about 20 hours of casual work during the weekend's snap lockdown.
"I was aware this could happen … but it still hurts to lose a chunk of work," he said.
"I've had to consider finding a second job but at the moment, finding a job isn't the easiest."
Mr Wood said the government reacted well to the UK strain risk, but called for more to be done to support casual workers.
"If this happened in the middle of function season there would be a lot more people with a lot less work," he said.
"The first thing we need to look at is why Job Seeker continues to drop while so many people are still without work due to COVID."
Opposition Business and Employment spokesman Brett Mickelberg said Ms Palaszczuk's claim Queensland was back to normal was "out of touch", and called for clear decision-making to protect businesses employing casual workers.
"All workers and small businesses want, is clear and consistent decisions, along with the best quarantine procedures in the world, so that harmful outbreaks are not repeated," he said.
"Queenslanders deserve a better understanding of why decisions are being made."
Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland Policy and Advocacy General Manager Amanda Rohan said it was difficult to apply a blanket test to Queensland business' viability.
"Being able to open and operate doesn't mean the majority of businesses are back to a position they were before the COVID pandemic," she said.
"There are many variables in how businesses are trading, with differing impacts to their viability."
Originally published as Premier's comments infuriate business owners