Queensland’s JobKeeper danger zones


The end of JobKeeper wage subsidies this month is set to smash Queensland's tourism centres harder than most of Australia.

Eight of the 10 postcodes containing the highest number of Queensland JobKeeper recipients are in the Gold Coast, Cairns and Sunshine Coast, new figures from Treasury and The Australian Taxation Office show.

This contrasts sharply with other states where capital city CBDs and suburbs dominate their JobKeeper numbers, and highlights why there have been calls for extra assistance across Queensland once JobKeeper stops on March 28.

Postcode 4870, which includes Cairns and nearby towns, had more businesses receiving JobKeeper in February than any other Queensland region, totalling 1821. Despite its much smaller population, the Cairns region's JobKeeper figure is higher than every capital city CBD apart from Sydney and Melbourne.


Queenslanders are at risk of returning to Centrelink lines as JobKeeper comes to an end. Picture: AAP/Dan Peled
Queenslanders are at risk of returning to Centrelink lines as JobKeeper comes to an end. Picture: AAP/Dan Peled

Surfers Paradise and Main Beach's postcode, 4217, is the second most affected area with 1695 businesses still on JobKeeper, while Brisbane's CBD postcode is third with 1561. Five of the next six hardest-hit are Gold Coast postcodes.

KPMG chief economist Brendan Rynne said Queensland's biggest JobKeeper postcodes were "all strongly connected to tourism".

Areas that relied heavily on overseas visitors would fare the worst, he said, because international borders remained closed.

"We are going to see some business closures," Dr Rynne said.

"That's normal - businesses close and businesses open all the time - but the question is if there is a more accelerated level of business closures."

That looks likely in Queensland, even after last week's $1.2 billion Federal Government package to deliver half-price flights to tourist destinations from April to October.

New research by Roy Morgan found Queensland's unemployment was the worst in the nation in February, and Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine said the workforce's heavy reliance on tourism made it "particularly vulnerable".



"There will be job losses in Queensland's tourism industry when JobKeeper ends," she said.

"What is uncertain is how many job losses there will be and how many of those who lose their job will be able to find new ones."

Ms Levine said the state's "continual and rapid" border closures during the pandemic had been politically popular but had undermined confidence among other Australians to book holidays to Queensland, and a widespread COVID vaccinations were needed to restore confidence.

"It seems unlikely the international border will re-open this year, or even fully re-open next year," she said.

"The most important countries to Australia's tourism sector are China, New Zealand, the UK, USA and Japan. If full international travel is restored between Australia and these five countries it has a good chance of recovering relatively quickly."

Economists' forecasts of job losses nationally from JobKeeper stopping have ranged between 100,000 and 250,000, and Queensland's share could run into tens of thousands.

AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver said Australians had been spending plenty of money in the pandemic, but instead of tourism it was going to JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman and Officeworks.

"Queensland is far more dependent on international tourism than other states, and has had many issues with border closures," Dr Oliver said.

Originally published as Queensland's JobKeeper danger zones


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