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NSW border reopens, but will it be enough to save Queensland tourism?

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Travel between NSW and Queensland will soon be easier but Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk wants the Commonwealth to give the Sunshine State a “helping hand”.

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With international travel still restricted, the lifting of the last remaining hotspot declaration over Sydney on February 1 will provide a minor boost to the Queensland economy if people fly north to spend money.

As the school holidays come to an end,  Palaszczuk today urged people to start planning holidays in the Sunshine State to help local communities endure the economic the downturn.

Palaszczuk echoed the calls from tourism officials and businesses for the JobKeeper supplement to be extended beyond March for hard-hit industries such as tourism. She said some businesses were “doing it tough” and had a dire outlook.

“There’s around 10,000 businesses in the tropical north that are on JobKeeper at the moment and that’s going to have a huge impact on employment,” Palaszczuk said.

Palaszczuk made the comments in Cairns, after meeting with local tourism stakeholders yesterday. Pressure has been building on the Morrison Government over the fate of the JobKeeper supplement.

“What we’re asking for is a helping hand during this hour of need,” Palaszczuk said.

Last week, during a visit to Queensland, Prime Minister Scott Morrison repeatedly refused to be drawn on whether JobKeeper might be extended for certain industries or regions.

Applications for JobSeeker payments in December rose higher in Queensland than the national average, and even higher still in Cairns and Townsville.

Federal, state and territory governments have started their budget work, ahead of the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines that, apart from preventing more deaths, are hoped to bring economic stability.

Palaszczuk announced the Sydney hotspot change on morning television, catching NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian unawares. Berejiklian declined to criticise her Queensland counterpart for the lack of communication, saying only that she hoped the border change brought “joy and relief” to separated families.

Queensland recorded one new case of COVID-19 overnight in hotel quarantine, while NSW recorded three and neither state had community transmission.

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