The premier warns a second wave of coronavirus would cost our economy $4.8 billion but she needs to do more, writes the Courier Mail editor.
The premier warns a second wave of coronavirus would cost our economy $4.8 billion but she needs to do more, writes the Courier Mail editor.

'Premier needs to find a way to keep people in jobs'

OPINION

Turning up with treats for police officers and volunteers manning Queensland's border yesterday was an excellent stunt by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Well done.

However, the spoils Queensland desperately needs now that Ms Palaszczuk has introduced a hard border closure with Australia's two biggest economies for the foreseeable future don't come with icing sugar on them.

It's all well and good for Ms Palaszczuk to warn how a second wave of coronavirus would cost the Sunshine State's economy somewhere in the vicinity of $4.8 billion.

However, that does not absolve the second-term Labor government from its responsibility for figuring out how to keep businesses ticking over and people in jobs now that our trade terms have been severely limited.

Queensland needs a detailed plan for keeping afloat those industries hardest hit by the border closure, a plan that demonstrates how were going to generate greater domestic activity while closed off from other states and a plan that sets out how we're going to reduce crippling operating costs.

The day for unveiling such a blueprint was on Wednesday when the Premier announced her decision on the border.

Ms Palaszczuk tacitly admitted as much yesterday when she went to the Gold Coast, the region most likely to be hardest hit by the decision she has made.

She announced a $7 million study co-funded with the Gold Coast City Council for the next stage of the city's very successful light rail system, extending the network south from Burleigh to Coolangatta.

However, while a study might keep some consultants employed, hopefully in Queensland, it will be years before shovels are in the ground, meaning it will do nothing for the predicament our state currently faces.

 

Premier Annastasia Palaszczuk visits the Qld/NSW border crossing at Griffith Street Coolangatta. Pics Adam Head
Premier Annastasia Palaszczuk visits the Qld/NSW border crossing at Griffith Street Coolangatta. Pics Adam Head

 

Ms Palaszczuk also highlighted the Government's $50 billion four-year infrastructure plan as an example of how it was responding to the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's because we're continuing to manage the health response that we're able to focus on Queensland's economic recovery plan," the Premier said.

However, this was disingenuous of Ms Palaszczuk because it's the same plan that she had in place before anyone had heard of COVID-19, the same plan she was spruiking while Queensland continued to have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.

The situation has descended extraordinarily since this pretty standard infrastructure spend was first detailed in the State Budget over 12 months ago.

And given it was insufficient back then to really nudge the unemployment needle, it is grossly inadequate now.

However, while maintaining government capital investment is still important, it is delusional to believe Queensland can use its public balance sheet to spend our way out of trouble given the debt it carried into this crisis.

What's needed instead is the adoption of an entrepreneurial attitude, an enlivening of Queensland's old frontier spirit, to find ways to create private sector activity.

Trusting private enterprise and facilitating its investment have never been among the Palaszczuk Government's attributes given both are largely anathema to its dominant Left faction.

But given Ms Palaszczuk unassailable position as Labor Leader and the goodwill she's enjoying from Queenslanders, now is the time to bring the Left to heel and push through changes that will make activity happen.

If they don't like it then the Premier could always deliver cake to the next caucus meeting.

 

Originally published as Premier needs to find a way to keep people in jobs



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