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Queensland business fears being left behind as southern states rush to re-open

The Queensland business sector fears the state will be left behind as NSW and Victoria open up and are pleading with the State Government to provide a pathway out of COVID-19 restrictions after Friday’s national cabinet meeting.

Sep 30, 2021, updated Sep 30, 2021
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says mask mandates will return to Queensland from 1am on Saturday. (AAP Image/Darren England)

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says mask mandates will return to Queensland from 1am on Saturday. (AAP Image/Darren England)

The meeting is expected to discuss a national reopening plan and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland and the Property Council said it was chance to deliver certainty.

The three questions CCIQ wants answered were:

  • The vaccination rate needed for re-opening;
  • A commitment to re-opening state borders,
  • and when will airports and international borders re-open.

However, the problem for the State Government is that it needs the revised modelling from the Doherty Institute before it can make any commitment. It has received an interim report but has yet to get an understanding on what vaccination levels are needed when the outbreaks in NSW and Victoria are so extensive.

It isn’t even aware of the agenda for Friday’s meeting and claims it never knows until a half an hour before the meeting starts.

CCIQ general manager of policy and advocacy Amanda Rohan said she didn’t know how much longer business could wait for an answer and there was concern about Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s changing narratives about a potentially higher vaccination rate than other states.

“We don’t have a view on the level (of vaccination rates). We want to know what it is so we can then figure out what the impact will be and go from there,” Rohan said.

“Anything higher (than 80 per cent) would need some solid rationale behind it.

“The risk is the Queensland economy will be left behind when businesses in other states are getting ready for when borders re-open and lockdowns are abandoned.

“Those businesses have a light at the end of the tunnel and some kind of confidence as to what they can expect, which is more than what Queensland businesses have been afforded.”

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Rohan’s comments follow an InQueensland report in which experts said Queensland should be able to safely reopen its borders once 80 per cent of eligible residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as long as testing rates remain high and positive cases continue to be isolated.

The ANZ/Property Council Survey has revealed a dip in confidence levels in the Queensland sector which it said was likely to have been caused by snap lockdowns, mandatory mask wearing in the workplace, and ongoing border closures.

However industry sentiment in Queensland is still strong at 135 index points in the September 2021 quarter. A score of 100 points is considered neutral.

The Property Council said the result reinforces the need for a Queensland Government roadmap to provide certainty on when and how restrictions will be eased and the economy fully reopened.

The council’s Queensland executive director, Jen Williams said businesses were unable to withstand the financial and psychological burden of changing restrictions. Many were struggling to survive or holding off on expansion or growth plans until there was greater certainty on when ‘COVID-normal’ was expected to be reached.

“Other states have now clearly indicated when remaining restrictions will be eased and how their states plan to live with COVID. Queensland risks being left behind if it does not move quickly to provide certainty to businesses that rely on the national and global economy for survival.

 

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