Business leaders slam ‘ludicrous’ border plan
GOLD Coast and Tweed business leaders are calling on the Queensland Government to rethink the "thought bubble" of closing the border which could impact on up to one million commuters.
Greater Southern Chamber of Commerce president Hilary Jacobs said the restrictions, to be imposed after midnight tomorrow, would worsen trading for business operators from Byron Bay to Brisbane and only add to their stress.
Border retailers forecast hundreds of thousands of commuters either wanting to drive to work or deliver goods could be impacted by the new measures each day, while teachers unions warn hundreds of their members will be among those affected.
"The closure of the Queensland border is a thought bubble that really needs to be re-examined very closely in the south east," Ms Jacobs said.
"Every one of us on both sides of the border deals with someone from the other state - every day. Be it work colleagues, friends, family or people serving us at shops, hospitals, schools, everywhere.
"This is not a real world solution and the main effort should be based around protecting whole communities."
Ms Jacobs said businesses remained in the dark about how the Government would police the restrictions, which were expected to exempt essential freight operations and emergency service workers.
"It's ludicrous. We have to look at where this virus is being accessed. Where are those people accessing. We can't deal with it on an arbitrary line on a map. The line through the Tweed. We are one country," Ms Jacobs said.
The chamber has also questioned some of the Queensland Government's tax reforms, including payroll tax, with about 24,000 operators expected to get an average payroll tax refund of $9000.
"The Queensland payroll tax refund will not help many of our members. The payroll tax threshold at $1.3 million excludes many small businesses, who don't even turn that much over, let alone pay it in wages," Ms Jacobs said.
"A small business is one whose turnover is under $10 million or have less than 20 employees. Over 60 per cent of small businesses take less than $200,000 in turnover so they can't afford to be in payroll tax territory - and 98 per cent of businesses are small business."
The chamber estimates one per cent of businesses will benefit.
Ms Jacob said both large and small operators businesses were now closing and not paying staff.
"The State Government needs to immediately assist in redistributing the jobs where possible. We are already hearing that there are no backpackers to pick fruit, the supermarkets have been on a recruitment drive. There will be opportunity to resolve this better for some people," she said.
Gold Coast local Christine Tobia-Philip is helping at her husband's roofing company after all her jobs as a freelance photographer were "postponed" following strict social distancing measures were put in place.
"Being a Gold Coast-based business we (Empire Roofing) have a lot of clients in northern NSW, more than we have in Brisbane and we're not sure how the border closure will affect us," she said.
"Right now we have guys in Casuarina doing work but we're not sure if they will be allowed to stay. We have heard if people are working it's allowed, and the guys will be in high vis gear.
"People still have to work and if you're on a construction job surely it's not as high risk, so we're just waiting for some clarity in regards to how it will work.
"What we know so far is that they are okay until Wednesday midnight."
Queensland Teachers Union head Kevin Bates said hundreds of Gold Coast teachers would be affected by the closure of Queensland-NSW border.
"Schools must be back on the agenda and given some indication of how the border situation will work, we've got lots of students going to school on the other side of the border and parents and teachers who cross it to go to work," he said.
"We anticipate it's going to be a very challenging time."
Originally published as Business leaders slam 'ludicrous' border plan