‘Look us in the eye when you say that, Premier’
THE Gold Coast will get a first-hand glimpse of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's crisis management skills today when she visits the city.
Not so much in her pow-wow with familiar faces at a top-end-of-town meeting, but whether she has the courage to face the desperate business owners and staff severely hit by the coronavirus crisis.
Many of them are on the brink of collapse and all know colleagues or mates who have lost their jobs or had hours slashed. Some are feeding them just to get by.
Angry business leaders threw down the challenge to the Premier late last week.
They asked she visit to feel their pain after her shock admission that September was a more "realistic" date for the reopening of the NSW border.
The announcement stunned traders who had been working on a July 10 road map.
They were furious she declined to explain where the September date came from and clarify a later remark that tourism would bounce back.
Fuel was poured on that fury at the weekend when Ms Palaszczuk admitted she would always act on the advice Chief Medical Officer Dr Jeannette Young and her nonchalant response to NSW allowing 50 people to visit restaurants and clubs when Queensland could have only 20 from June 12.
Traders cannot understand why Queensland has to wait weeks, without an explanation, for restrictions to ease while states with worse COVID records are opening their doors.
That is why today is so important. Ms Palaszczuk has a reputation among critics for failing to be a "premier of the people", particularly on the Gold Coast.
She has been criticised for willingly attending press conferences and cutting ribbons with A-listers, but ignoring the plight of hardworking mums and dads who pay her wages.
It happened again on Saturday when she visited the Gold Coast for an announcement with film director Baz Luhrmann.
Ms Palaszczuk and her entourage stopped at Southport Yacht Club and then went home, ignoring the pleas of thousands of businesspeople on the Coast.
Similarly, she was caught out by the Bulletin at the start of the coronavirus crisis in February when she visited the Coast to tour a school. Tourism and business leaders reeling from the global free fall did not know she was in town.
Today, Ms Palaszczuk needs to walk Griffith St in Coolangatta, Cavill Ave in Surfers Paradise, the Broadbeach Mall, visit Robina and Southport, and eye the out-of-work families in the city's north, many of them Kiwis who inject millions of dollars into the economy through taxes but are ineligible for COVID-19 subsidies.
We are not talking about a pre-organised smile-and-greet with one of the few business owners doing all right during the pandemic.
The Premier may cop grief from honest, street-smart traders who do not agree with her rhetoric, and her advisers will choke on the thought of her doing it. It is not in the PR manual. However, she will earn the respect of many Gold Coasters for showing decency in the face of adversity.
It is time to front up to those workers on their knees financially and earn the appreciation of the people who matter.
Originally published as 'Look us in the eye when you say that, Premier'