Battling businesses pushed aside for Hollywood selfie



PREMIER Annastacia Palaszczuk has responded to desperate pleas from the shuttered and shattered tourism industry with a lightning visit to the Gold Coast - to pose with a movie director.

As desperate tourism leaders again implored Ms Palaszczuk  to ditch tough COVID-19 border restrictions in July, the Premier paid a visit to the Coast for a media event alongside film legend Baz Luhrmann.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk with Baz Luhrmann and daughter his daughter Lilly. Picture: AAP Image/Richard Gosling
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk with Baz Luhrmann and daughter his daughter Lilly. Picture: AAP Image/Richard Gosling

Quizzed on whether she had met with business operators while on the Gold Coast - ground zero for the COVID-19 economic shutdown - a spokesman confirmed Ms Palaszczuk met with the manager of Southport Yacht Club where the media event was held, visited a cafe and spoke to international students and locals.

But she promised to return and listen to tourism leaders next week with Tourism Minister Kate Jones and held firm that the border shutdown would be evaluated on a monthly basis.  

"I have accepted their invitation to come down (to the Gold Coast) and have a chat and we intend to do that," Ms Palaszczuk said. "We're talking to the caterers, we're talking to the Australian Hotels Association about how businesses can open up to more people, but this has to be a very gradual and measured opening."

Ms Palaszczuk announced a $10 million fund to support more than 20,000 stranded international students.

The Government will also support a campaign, called The Study Queensland Luhrmann Appeal, launched by Luhrmann's daughter Lilly to also support students.

"These are mostly young people far from home and unable to get home because of the pandemic," Ms Palaszczuk said. "I want their parents to know their children are being looked after the same as we would want our children looked after if they were in another country."

Ms Palaszczuk also encouraged tourism leaders in the tropics, who have mooted a travel bubble stretching from Marlborough to Cape York, to make a formal submission to the Government.

"It is something that the Chief Health Officer could look at," she said. "It just depends how our number of cases go when we look at the Stage 2, and all that gets reviewed at the end of each month."

Ms Palaszczuk would not be swayed by news the NSW Government was planning more significant relaxations for the hospitality industry as soon as next month.

"That's a matter for them," she said. "They are the state with the highest number of cases and Queensland has done a remarkable job. We are the envy of other parts of the world, we have done better than New Zealand and we don't want to put that at risk."

Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said they would be happy for the border to be reopened from July. Mr Gschwind said operators wanted to tap into the lucrative southern markets.

"People from the southern parts of Australia have a high propensity to come and holiday in Queensland during the winter," he said. "For obvious reasons, the weather is more pleasant up here. That's a great opportunity for us to get our industry going again."

LNP tourism spokesman David Crisafulli yesterday hit out at "conflicting" COVID rules that were based on "flawed logic and policy on the run".

"The community frustration isn't about whether these timelines and numbers are right or wrong, it's that they can change so drastically without any change to medical advice," he said.

Boardwalk Tavern at Hope Island staffer Olivia Richardson. Picture: AAP Image/Richard Gosling
Boardwalk Tavern at Hope Island staffer Olivia Richardson. Picture: AAP Image/Richard Gosling

Matt Coorey, who owns the Boardwalk Tavern at Hope Island, said they had reopened under the new 10-person limit on Friday to get some life back into the place.

"I'm a real fan of the square metre rule," he said.

"Every single week that we are shut, it gets harder and harder and harder for so many businesses to reopen."

Destination Gold Coast chief executive Annaliese Battista said if the borders remained closed as late as September it would cost the sector an extra $500 million.

"What we're seeking at the moment is a definitive line in the sand being that the borders will reopen in July and the sector is very much wanting clarity around that decision," she said.

Originally published as Battling businesses pushed aside for Hollywood selfie