‘CATASTROPHIC’: Border closure killing business and tourism
CHAMBER of Commerce heads on the Tweed and Gold Coast are "urgently" calling on the State Government to reopen the border with NSW as they say restrictions are "killing" small business and tourism.
Tweed Chamber of Commerce Board Member John Weaver said yesterday border controls should be "urgently reassessed" and lifted "in days, not months" after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on Monday the closure could remain in place until at least September.
The impact on small businesses, he said, would be "catastrophic" with the damage being done to the sector as well as tourism and retail "in the millions of dollars per day".
Mr Weaver said border checks were "a total waste of money".
"The amount of time, money and resources could have been better spent on supporting small business," Mr Weaver said.
He said the Chamber had "no confidence" in the State Government and believed the Federal Government should overrule their decision.
"Why are there two sets of rules? The NRL can travel yet small business is penalised.
"The Tweed/Gold Coast border has the highest density of any population in the country for a border community and we've got this going on.
"It's basically killing small business and tourism."
Business NSW has reissued its plea for Queensland to appoint a Cross Border Commissioner to support communities and businesses, and Northern Rivers Regional Manager Jane Laverty backed calls for the border to open "now".
"A Queensland Cross Border Commissioner, working with their NSW counterpart, would expedite the opening of the border and unlock many other economic development opportunities for mutual benefit."
Ms Laverty said government financial help would end in September and small business and the tourism sector "absolutely" needed borders to reopen to rebuild confidence "that they'll be able to see this through".
"The economic crisis is becoming as serious as the heath crisis."
Tweed Chamber of Commerce President and Tweed Shire Councillor Warren Polglase agreed, adding that the 150km travel radius should be allowed to extend across the border.
"This virus is not going to be killed overnight and we have to learn to live with restrictions, but having the border closed is an excessive restriction for people on both sides.
"I know businesses that will have to go to the banks for help after September, and that puts a big burden on them and some businesses won't be able to carry that."
In an open letter which she has sent to councillors and State Government members Hilary Jacobs, President of the Greater Southern Gold Coast Chamber of Commerce, said she would like to see the Gold Coast City Council standing up for the Southern Gold Coast community and for "rebuilding our badly damaged economy please".
"Now is the time to build local economies back up and the border closure in the middle of our community is not doing that".
Ms Jacobs said many had been "holding out" hoping to see benefits during the June to September tourist season.
She said southern tourists were needed for the industry as the overseas market had been lost.
"We understand there's a need for caution, but we don't understand why we can't be in a situation where everybody is helping everybody."
Michael and Natasha Pedlow, owners of Loot Homewares in Tweed Mall, said the border closures had been "a massive inconvenience" because they serviced both sides of the border meaning a normal 10-minute delivery would often now take 40 minutes.
Mr Pedlow said the business had felt a "severe impact" on turnover.
"I'd just like to see it reopened. I get why they did it to stop the interstate travellers, but for day-to-day business it's just not functional."
Articles contributed by Louise Shannon were supported by the Judith Neilson Institute of Journalism and Ideas.