A new billboard has been erected on the Gold Coast to send a very clear warning to the Queensland government.
“Open the borders, Save our jobs.”
The massive billboard went up following a string of legal threats made towards the Annastacia Palaszczuk, who closed the borders on April 3 and say they won’t reopen until at least July. Ms Palaszczuk says she is standing firm on the border closures despite pleas from business owners that the stance is destroying businesses. In the Gold Coast alone, the decision is costing the popular tourist destination $310 million a month.
In response to the billboards, firm principal of Southern Gold Coast Lawyers told the Gold Coast Bulletin he just hopes the Premier will see it.
“There’s no medical reason for the borders to be closed,” he said.
“If you open them (borders), people will come up here and spend money. There will be employment.”
Earlier this week, business owners and tourism operators on the Gold Coast launched a protest against the state government, urging them to reopen the borders as their businesses continue to suffer.
According to the Gold Coast Bulletin, around 50 cars took part in the protest, with the majority demanding a set date for reopening. Many of the businesses involved are demanding the state government give more than a day’s notice about when the borders will reopen so they’re not left behind again.
The demand comes as many hotels and restaurants claim they were left unable to operate their business from Monday June 1, given the Premier announced travel within the state would be allowed just 24 hours earlier.
“We want a set date for when the border will be reopened,” Greg Daven, regional manager for Hot Air Balloon Cairns and Gold Coast, told the publication.
“We want them open by July and we need time to prepare. It takes a lot to reopen businesses.
“Every day we wait is a loss of thousands of dollars for our industry.”
Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind added that businesses need time to reopen, and cannot be told with just a day’s notice.
“It’s easier shutting things down (overnight) but it’s much more complicated to get things going again,” Mr Gschwind told the Young Witness.
“The airlines, the accommodations providers and suppliers all need to know in advance.”
The protests come as a number of High Court legal challenges have been flagged against the constitutional right of the Queensland government to keep the state’s borders closed.
School students, workers and freight drivers can enter the state without an issue, but Queensland is closed to anyone else because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brisbane-based law firm Mahoneys confirmed on Tuesday on its Facebook page it would be taking legal action.
“We are arguing that the Queensland government did not have the constitutional right to shut the border,” Mahoneys litigation partner Mitchell Downes said in a statement on the firm’s website.
He said the move was part of a wider effort to help Queensland’s tourism industry recover from the effects that COVID-19 had on the industry and businesses and people that rely on it.
A gofundme page has been set up to fund the challenge and allow the plaintiffs to start the case in the High Court “as soon as possible”.
On Wednesday, the Premier announced a new flight between Brisbane and the Whitsundays to encourage Queenslanders to take a holiday up north.
From June 22, Alliance Airlines will make four flights a week from Brisbane to the Whitsundays for $99 under a deal with the state government.
“We’re encouraging everyone from the southeast corner to come up and support the Whitsundays during a tough time,” Tourism Minister Kate Jones said.
“One in three people in this region work in the tourism industry; it is worth almost a billion dollars to this region annually, and they have suffered significant blows with COVID-19.”