Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has called Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s repeated calls for an extension of JobKeeper “petty politicking,” as the next stage of targeted economic support comes under consideration.
Palaszczuk has continued pushing for JobKeeper to be extended, saying Queensland’s tourism industry will be severely affected once payments stop on March 28.
However, Treasurer Frydenberg has reiterated that while JobKeeper has been immensely successful, the program must end before its “perverse incentives” become pronounced.
“We stand ready to continue to support Queenslanders through this crisis, as we have done from the very start of this crisis,” Frydenberg wrote in The Courier-Mail newspaper.
“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.”
He said the Federal Government had provided more than $28.5 billion in economic incentives to Queensland households and businesses. In comparison, the premier had only pledged $8.8 billion over the next four years.
“Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is entitled to her own opinions, but not her own facts,” he wrote.
Frydenberg continued to criticise the Queensland government, saying the state government provided the lowest economic support of any state or territory government at two percent of Gross State Product (GSP).
In contrast, the New South Wales state government committed seven percent of its GSP, and the Victorian government committed nine percent.
“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,” Frydenberg said.
In response, Palaszczuk said Frydenberg “out of touch with Queenslanders” and encouraged him to visit the state and talk to the tourism industry.
“If he did, he would know the number one concern for this industry is the end of JobKeeper,” Palaszczuk wrote in reply. “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again—we’re not asking for a blank cheque. We’re just asking for Queensland’s fair share.”
Queensland’s tourism industry, which brought in 2.7 million tourists and injected $6 billion into the state economy, has suffered under tight border control restrictions.
“The key to getting those people [in Queensland] back to work in the tourism sector is to have open borders,” Frydenberg told ABC radio.
Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said in August that travel restrictions should be proportionate to the risks of COVID-19 across different jurisdictions.
“But if we get to a point where some states choose to keep their border restrictions in place longer than even reasonable health advice would suggest, well then those states need to stump up and also help to support the tourism industry,” he said.
Despite this advice, Palaszczuk announced hard border closures during the Christmas holidays, at the peak of travel season, leaving many people stranded in self quarantine over the New Year.
“[Palaszczuk] is now the victim of a policy she put in place herself,” New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.