Topics: Reimagine 2.0; Queensland border restrictions; The National Plan for Reopening; Funding for the Coomera Connector; The Murugappan Family; International border restrictions; The Ashes
Angie Bell MP: Good morning everyone, it’s wonderful to be here in the beating heart of Moncrieff and Surfers Paradise at The Island with my colleagues, Minister Robert, and Minister Andrews, the Minister of Home Affairs.
Great to be here this morning talking with industry at Reimagine 2.0. Last year we had Reimagine at Broadbeach bringing together industry leaders talking about the future for the Gold Coast, in terms of industry jobs and skills, and this year at Reimagine 2.0 we are focusing on innovation on opportunity and on talent for the future of Gold Coast jobs skills and industry.
It is a very exciting forum, and we look forward to coming out the other end of this morning with some outcomes to move forward for the industry jobs and skills on the Gold Coast so very exciting this morning.
Question: Are you able to shed any light on further tourism supports for operators on the Gold Coast?
Angie Bell MP: Well I am very pleased that the Federal Government has been able to deliver a $600 million joint package with the Queensland Government in recent weeks, and that is going to substantially help tourism operators on the Gold Coast and I would encourage them all to go to the Queensland Government website to apply for that, as it is being administered through the Queensland Government. I’m sure you’re talking about perhaps the hint yesterday from the Tourism Minister that there would be another announcement. That announcement has not come forward yet, but that’s all I can say on that at this point in time.
Question: What are you hearing from these tourism operators?
Angie Bell MP: Well, there’s no doubt that it has been very, very difficult for very many Gold Coast businesses during COVID, that it has been low after blow with border closures, with Sydney being locked out with Melbourne being locked out, our two biggest tourism markets here locally. And so that is why the Federal Government has put in place a $600 million tourism package for tourists businesses and for small businesses on the Gold Coast and we have the Minister here for Employment, Workforce, Skills and Small and Family Business he might make my wish to add to that, Minister.
Minister Robert: Thanks very much. What’s important is we all stick to the national plan. The Premier was out yesterday, casting doubt on whether that national plan will be stuck to, questioning why people would want to travel. Well people love traveling, and 80% of the tourists in the Gold Coast come from New South Wales and Victoria, and so many Australians want to travel overseas, especially for Christmas.
The national plan has got our borders opening at 80%. Today we’re approaching 75% over 16 first vaccination and 50% fully vaccinated for all Australians. New South Wales Premier has got 70% fully vaccinated in early October, that’s a couple of weeks’ time.
We need to stick to the national plan and our city’s call to Premier Palaszczuk, is to stick to the national plan, give all our businesses certainty, give our small businesses certainty. Let them have hope for Christmas. By making it clear that the Premier is sticking to the national plan of opening our borders at 80%.
Question: Families stuck at the border can’t afford to fly in via Sydney, enter Queensland and pay $10,000 to quarantine, there are suggestions the Federal Government set up a quarantine facility at the Showground staffed by the ADF? There are hundreds stuck.
Minister Robert: How about the Queensland Government allowed citizens to come back to their homes? How about we do that? How about Premier Palaszczuk, allow the citizens of Queensland to return to their homes?
Right now you’re seeing home quarantine being trialled right across the country, but not in Queensland. Premier Palaszczuk can do home quarantine right now. Right now, all of those Queensland citizens who are stuck across the border, could return to their own homes and be in home quarantine, we’re seeing home quarantine trials around the country, just not in Queensland.
We need Queensland’s vaccination rates to increase. We need home quarantine to commence. We need guarantees of borders opening at 80%. Queenslanders need certainty and confidence on the national plan.
Question: Minister Robert, Josh Frydenberg says it is in the national interest to adopt net zero by 2050 is that your position?
Minister Robert: Well I read Phil Coorey’s article today I’m sure so has Karen. Josh is speaking at a major conference today so we’ll wait and see what Josh has got to say, the Government’s position on this is well known that we want to hit net zero as quickly as possible, but to do it through technology, not through taxes.
We will not introduce a carbon tax, and we will not let the burden sit on the regions such as the Gold Coast and wider parts of Queensland. Now we understand the need to continue to move forward strongly, we’re seeing that our country has achieved substantially 20% reduction of our emissions since 2005 and we are well and truly on track to meet our 2030 targets. So Josh will speak today, In terms of our trajectory of where we’re going. The government’s position on this is well known.
Question: Do you think the party will formerly adopt that before Glasgow?
Minister Robert: Well let’s just wait to see what the party does the Government’s position is quite clear in terms of where we’re sitting.
Question: Minister Andrews today we’ve found out the Coomera Connector project has blown out by $600 million and the Queensland Government is calling for the Federal Government to step in and top up the funding to complete it, will you do that?
Minister Andrews: The Federal Government has always made it very clear that we are interested in working with the state and territory governments to make sure that we are keeping Australia moving. Now I can speak specifically in relation to the work on the Southern Gold Coast that has been a partnership, led by the Commonwealth Government to make sure that we are widening the M1 all the way through to Tugun and beyond.
Unfortunately in Queensland, the state government has a history of making commitments that they are unable to deliver on, and then coming back to the Commonwealth Government for additional support.
The clear message that I would give to the state government is that they need to start understanding that they have to live within their means, we will do what we can to support them because we are very conscious that the people on the Gold Coast are not disadvantaged. But, the Queensland Government needs to make sure that it is stepping up and doing the work that it needs to take, taking the responsibilities that it needs to take to make sure that Queensland continues to function as well as it possibly can
Question: The Biloela Family have been granted temporary visas, but the youngest daughter has not, can I get your comment on that?
Minister Andrews: In relation to that particular family, there has been an extension of the bridging visa that they have in place. It applies to certain members of that family. That’s because there is currently a number of matters that are being dealt with through the court system that will be resolved at some stage in the future, we don’t have the exact dates for that. But I think we should also be reminded that there have been a number of cases in the past in relation to that family, and at all times they have been found to be not owed protection by Australia.
Question: English cricketers have threatened to boycott the Ashes if their families can’t join them, will you make an exemption to let their families join them?
Minister Andrews: The Morrison Government is doing all we can to work with the state and territory governments in relation to opening borders. We will be doing, again, all what we can to open international borders, and there are vast numbers of people that wish to come into this country, and I know that states and territories have been very supportive of exemptions for example for sporting professionals, and for their families, but there are also everyday Australians out there who have not been able to see their families,. In some cases it’s Queenslanders who have not been able to see their family from Victoria. In other cases it’s people for example who have family in the United Kingdom, that have been unable to be reunited.
And I have sympathy for all of those people so I’m not going to be promoting priority for one group over another. We need to work with families, we need to work with our sporting organisations and we need to make sure that we have the skilled workforces of the future.
Question: Is the Government willing to risk the Ashes and potentially anger one of closest allies over this hard border stance?
Minister Andrews: Our priority is to all Australians and to make sure that we are enabling as many Australian citizens and permanent residents to come back to the country as soon as they possibly can. We are actively working to reopen our borders, to make sure that we will have international flights, coming to and from this country as soon as we possibly can.
It’s not a case of a priority over one group or another, there are multiple interest groups that we are looking to make sure that we can support them coming back into Australia. It does require the support of the state and territory governments, we will continue to work with them but the Morrison Government’s priority is get those international borders open as soon as it is safe to do so.
Minister Robert: Thanks very much.