The Australian Labor Party (ALP) has lambasted the federal government’s handling of the tourism industry after Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s flying visit to Cairns.
The treasurer arrived in Cairns on March 7 to meet with local tourism operators and discuss support options for when the JobKeeper package ends on March 28. Frydenberg said a new support plan for the industry will be announced in the coming days.
“We’re still finalising those details, but it’s a matter of days,” he said.
The economic recovery plan would encompass tax cuts, business incentives, the JobMaker hiring credit, new infrastructure spending, and a record investment in skills and training, according to the treasurer, who noted that the Morrison Government had already spent $251 billion on supporting businesses, with another $100 billion to be rolled out soon.
Anthony Albanese, leader of the ALP criticized the federal government for what he argued was its incapacity to deal with the sector’s crisis.
“The Morrison Government is responsible for keeping our tourism businesses alive when JobKeeper ends this month. But when Josh Frydenberg came to Cairns this week, he came empty-handed,” said Albanese in a post on Twitter on March. 9.
Annastacia Palaszczuk, the ALP Queensland Premier described the Treasurer’s failure to give details of a support plan as “a slap in the face to the people of Far North Queensland.”
“It’s 19 days until the end of JobKeeper. Many businesses are doing it tougher than ever before,” said Palaszczuk. “I urge the Prime Minister and the Treasurer to listen to locals and get the cheque book out this week.”
The state government has launched a raffle incentive program to support the struggling tourism operators in far North Queensland, who are heavily dependent on international travellers.
From March, 8 onwards, Queensland residents can register for the draw to win $200 worth of travel vouchers, winners of which will gain a 50 percent discount on travel experiences like the Great Barrier Reef or rainforest tours.
The 15,000 vouchers will be current from March 15 to June 25.
The program has already got 76,884 registrations so far, according to premier Palaszczuk’s post on Twitter.
The Queensland government will also spend $1 million on helping students visit the Great Barrier Reef.
By providing $150 for every eligible student in primary and high schools from July, the funding will allow over 6,500 Queensland students to learn about the reef, Palaszczuk said.
“Each year, thousands of Queensland kids travel interstate for school excursions but many haven’t had the chance to experience the beauties of their own backyard,” she said.
“We want more students to experience the reef and understand its importance—and support our tourism operators.”