Premier turns the spotlight on the Far North


Karlie Brady


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Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk yesterday announced that Cairns would host a special Regional Cabinet meeting in April.

The impact and recovery for tourism from the coronavirus crisis as well as jobs and infrastructure around the region will be the focus when the Premier brings her full Cabinet to the Far North.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk yesterday announced that Cairns would host a special Regional Cabinet meeting in April.

“My government is absolutely focussed on building the infrastructure that Cairns and the far north region require and building upon our already solid record of creating and sustaining jobs,” the Premier said.

“Jobs and economic development are at the heart of everything my Government does and the response to the coronavirus crisis is no different.”

The news comes a day after the state government announced that Queensland business owners hit hard by the coronavirus will share in more than $27 million in assistance.

The initiative is the biggest and richest package of measures offered by any government in Australia.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the economic impact on Queensland’s tourism, agriculture, fishing, and education sectors is comparable to any natural disaster.

“The overnight downturn in Chinese tourists, students, and export markets is having enormous impact,” the Premier said.

“This $27.25 million is a way of addressing some of those losses and setting us up for recovery once the virus is contained.”

Highlights include:

  • $7 million in international tourism promotion
  • $4.8 million targeted for the Tropical Far North and Gold Coast regions
  • Waiving fees for fishers
  • Waiving fees associated with liquor licences
  • Deferring tourism lease payments
  • Rebates for marina and jetty fees
  • Waive quota fees for rock lobster and coral trout

The Premier said they were practical and immediate measures but more needs to be done.

“The Federal Government should match my government dollar for dollar,” the Premier said.

“The Morrison Government needs to get serious, acknowledge this crisis will have a significant impact on Queensland industry and step up for our business owners.

“Federal support would allow us to provide a $2,000 resilience grant for up to 6,000 small business owners and it would trigger $700,000 in export grants for small to medium enterprises allowing them to travel to China and reconnect with partners once borders re-open.”

This week the Premier has once again written to the Prime Minister asking him to reconsider his objection to activating Natural Disaster Relief Arrangements.

On Friday the state government also announced a $3.67 million fee relief package for operators at the Cairns Marina to help with the impact of coronavirus.

This means commercial and reef operators can get a 100% rebate on their Ports North marina fees at the Cairns Marlin Marina which is government-owned.

However, this relief package has not been extended north to Port Douglas.

General Manager of Crystalbrook Marina, Robert Cruz, said a commercial operator from the marina brought it to his attention.

“I subsequently reached out to Member for Cook, Cynthia Lui discussing the fact that this operator had reached out to me and was curious if there was access to other relief programs for their business,” he said.

“They said they would get back to me, but I encourage operators in Port Douglas to reach out directly to the Member for Cook.”

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