LNP representatives discuss post COVID plans for Whitsundays
LNP LEADER Deb Frecklington and Whitsunday candidate Amanda Camm yesterday met with the Whitsundays Volunteer Marine Rescue Service (VMR) as part of their two day stint to learn more about the pain points for local residents and business owners in the wake of COVID-19.
Ms Frecklington and Ms Camm are in Whitsundays this week to meet with key local industries and businesses to get a feel for the effects of COVID-19 on the local economy and residents.
Former Mackay Deputy Mayor Ms Camm is vying for the Whitsundays seat against Jason Costigan in the October state election, and said their visit to the region was to meet with local tourism businesses, farmers and services to understand how they could help the region.
“Today we have spoken to the VMR and that really is about understanding how the VMR both supports tourism and the boating industry because recreational fishing is so significant across this electorate and boaties need to know that they are safe,” she said.
“The government needs to be supporting VMR and releasing the Blue Water Review so that all fishermen know they have safety on the water.”
Ms Camm said they would also be meeting with tourism operators and cane farmers who were feeling the pressures of the pandemic.
“Subsequent to that we will be meeting with a number of commercial tourism operators including the charter boat industry this evening just to hear how the current restrictions are impeding their ability to have more people on their boats,” she said.
“We will be meeting with cane farmers tomorrow as well, some of the issues we’ll be covering there include the high cost of power, high cost of water, the reef regulations and the cost impact on farmers and the real risk to productivity as we see farmers turn away from sugar and looking at other alternative crops or taking up cattle grazing because they are just not seeing the future with the current government framework.”
Ms Frecklington has previously said the Whitsunday seat was a “must win” for the party, and described Ms Camm as having the “passion, energy, ideas and experience” to deliver for the people of Whitsunday.
Ms Frecklington said the purpose of their visit was to “get a feel for the effects of COVID on the region,” and talk directly to those “who were hurting”.
“I’m pushing for the borders to be open. I’ve suggested many times that the Premier needs to listen to the people on the ground and understand how much people are hurting,” she said.
“What we need to do is to consider people’s health and livelihoods if they are facing decisions to close their business or put people off.
“There are thousands of unemployed people and thousands of businesses going under on a daily basis. We need to give some certainty and clarity and one way to do that and if I was premier I would open borders on July 1 to give the lead time so people can get back to work and kickstart the economy.”
Ms Frecklington said kickstarting the economy was crucial to ensuring the livelihoods of thousands of Queenslanders and had to be considered when discussing the reopening of Queensland’s borders.
“We need to make sure everyone is healthy and safe, but that is why we have the precautions in place. We need to kickstart the economy and drag the Queensland economy out of recession,” she said.
“Everyone needs to be sensible. What the premier has asked us to do is flatten the curve and Queenslanders have done that.”
With the Whitsundays local economy relying heavily on tourism, Ms Frecklington said it was crucial to the region that borders be reopened to allow interstate travellers.
“We of course want Queenslanders to holiday in Queensland but we need those interstate visitors,” she said.
“Eighty per cent of Queensland’s tourism dollars come from Victoria and New South Wales.
“We’ve now got no international tourism dollars, we need the interstate dollars.”