The Palaszczuk government has again demanded the JobKeeper wage subsidy program be extended for the tourism sector after it was revealed international travellers wouldn’t be welcomed back until at least mid-June.
Health Minister Greg Hunt on Tuesday night pushed the date back by three months from March 17 by extending the emergency period as “overseas continues to pose an unacceptable public health risk to Australia, including the emergence of more highly transmissible variants”.
The update confirmed tourism operators in the Sunshine State who relied on international travellers would be disproportionately impacted when the wage subsidy support scheme was cut off at the end of the month, Deputy Premier Steven Miles said.
“We anticipate 50,000 Queenslanders will lose their job at that point,” he told reporters on Wednesday morning.
The Deputy Premier said the impact to the sector equates to slashing about 3 per cent from the Australian economy.
“And if you go to places like Cairns, Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, that 50,000 jobs lost represents something like 15 or 16 per cent of their pre-COVID employment levels,” he said.
“We can’t afford that and we also can’t afford for those businesses to close who deliver the tourism products that attract people to our state.
“We won’t be able to turn those back on once our airports are open again and once we’re inviting people back from overseas.”
Mr Miles made the comments after delivering a speech about the need for affordable housing amid the Sunshine State’s rapid population growth.
He said the state government had begun discussions with industry experts to create a growth areas delivery team to decide where housing and infrastructure development needed to be accelerated.
The team is tasked with deciding on a region most in need, likely near the Gold Coast or the Redlands area closer to Brisbane.
“The pilot site identified will be an example of how local and state governments and the private sector can work together to plan for better communities,” Mr Miles said.
“The team will also work to bring land in the underutilised urban footprint to market sooner and ensure that quarterly local government infrastructure reporting identifies infrastructure spending and delivery for larger councils.”
Seven applications for a building acceleration fund totalling $72.8 million had reached the final stage of the assessment process.
“These projects are located across the state and will unlock land supply and employment opportunities,” Mr Miles said.
“The building acceleration fund is helping to deliver catalytic infrastructure projects that generate private sector investment, unlock development in Queensland and create construction and long-term employment.”