Queensland’s Premier has urged Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to “talk to people” as the spat about saving jobs in the ailing tourism industry escalates.
“When JobKeeper ends there are going to be a lot of people in the tourism industry that are really going to be feeling the effects of it,” Annastacia Palaszczuk told The Australian on Tuesday.
“I’d like to say one thing to Josh Frydenberg: Go up to Cairns and talk to people.
“I’m repeating what people are saying to me. It’s about listening to people. Yes, people can have opinions and you can have facts, but when you listen to people first hand and you hear how they’re feeling and what they’re worried about, you only get to know that if you sit down and talk to them.”
Ms Palaszczuk has been campaigning for an extension of the wage subsidy past the March cut-off for industries hit by international border closures, including tourism.
Her comments on Tuesday came after Mr Frydenberg accused her government of grandstanding and not doing enough to help ease the economic pain from the pandemic.
“Annastacia Palaszczuk is entitled to her own opinions but not her own facts,” Mr Frydenberg wrote in the Courier-Mail newspaper on Tuesday.
“The reality is the Morrison government has already delivered to Queenslanders more than three times the amount of economic support than the Palaszczuk government has committed to.”
He said the federal government had provided $28.5 billion in stimulus to Queensland through JobKeeper and allowing workers to dip into superannuation savings early.
Mr Frydenberg said that compared to $8.8 billion over the next four years pledged by the state government.
He said the Queensland government’s spending was the lowest as a proportion of gross state product of any state or territory at just 2 per cent.
Mr Frydenberg said the federal government would spend 13 per cent of gross domestic product, while Victoria had committed to 9 per cent of GSP and NSW to 7 per cent.
“Unfortunately for Queenslanders, when it comes to the level of state government support, this is one State of Origin contest their government doesn’t win,” he said.
The NSW Coalition government has no sympathy for the Labor premier, blaming the Queensland tourism sector’s woes on Ms Palaszczuk’s state border closures during the pandemic.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said Ms Palaszczuk is “the victim of a policy that she put in place herself”.
“NSW has been so strong on keeping borders open in Australia … to prevent exactly what the Queensland Premier is now complaining about,” she said.
“When you unnecessarily close state borders you lose jobs, you create hardship, you impact people’s mental health and wellbeing.”
Mr Frydenberg said March was the right time to wind back JobKeeper with 40,000 jobs created in Queensland between September and January and employment levels now higher than pre-pandemic levels.
He said any further Commonwealth support for industries such as tourism should be targeted, temporary and not get in the way of the broader economic recovery.
“We stand ready to continue to support Queenslanders through this crisis, as we have done from the very start of this crisis,” Mr Frydenberg added.
“No amount of grandstanding and petty politicking by the Queensland Premier will detract from the indisputable fact that when it comes to the economic response in Queensland, the Morrison government has done the bulk of the heavy lifting.”