Queensland backs a federal plan to slash airfares to regional destinations, but says the scheme needs to be available for intrastate holidaymakers.
The Morrison government has unveiled a $1.2 billion tourism and aviation package that will halve the cost of about 800,000 return flights to a dozen tourism destinations across Australia.
It’s aimed at tourism operators and airlines set to be hit when JobKeeper wage subsidy payments end later this month.
Queensland locations include Cairns, the Gold Coast, the Whitsundays and the Sunshine Coast.
Treasurer Cameron Dick is pleased more interstate visitors will come, but he’s disappointed there’s no support for those travelling within Queensland.
“Queenslanders are prohibited from holidaying in their own state under this half-baked, half-price flight scheme,” Mr Dick told parliament on Thursday.
“People from Brisbane, Logan, Gold Coast, Caboolture, they want to support Queensland. They want to travel to Cairns, they want to travel to the Whitsundays, they want to travel all over this state.”
The treasurer said the Morrison government hadn’t consulted Queensland about the plan.
Mr Dick had “a theory” about why the Commonwealth had chosen to include some regional areas but not others.
He said the NSW south coast town of Merimbula was in the Labor-held federal seat of Eden-Monaro, Launceston was in the Liberal-held Bass and Mayo was held by Rebekha Sharkie of the Centre Alliance.
Mr Dick said all are marginal electorates.
“Even if you wanted to go to Merimbula, it’s still a mess,” the treasurer said.
“If you are a Queenslander who plans to go to Merimbula through the scheme, you have to drive to the Gold Coast, catch a flight to Avalon near Geelong, hire a car, drive another hour from Avalon to Tullamarine, (then) catch another flight to Merimbula.
“By which point, it’s time to go home.”
The cut-price flights won’t support state programs offering $200 tourism vouchers to Queenslanders and $150 to students visiting the Great Barrier Reef.
But, the flights will compliment Queensland’s upcoming tourism advertising blitz in the southern states.
The Queensland Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the measures would be a boost, but they aren’t enough for businesses.
“That boost won’t happen immediately and it won’t help pay the bills or staffing costs before they arrive,” CCIQ’s Amanda Rohan said.
“We know stimulus cannot be provided forever. Businesses want to stand on their own feet, but they must be enabled to do that through every means possible.”
Ms Rohan urged the federal government to commit to a detailed plan to keep state borders open.
She also called for the Queensland government to write-off payroll tax debts.