The Courier-Mail

Jab fail hits tourism

QUEENSLAND’S tourism sector will have to scrap revival plans after the federal government abandoned setting targets for the COVID vaccine rollout.

- MADURA McCORMACK

its CO VID writes don’t own rules, you get to set the agenda

Scott Morrison

QUEENSLAND’S multibilli­on-dollar tourism sector will have to scrap revival plans and business confidence will take a hit after the federal government abandoned setting targets for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, economists and industry leaders have warned.

In a late afternoon address on social media yesterday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison doubled down on the government’s move to abandon vaccine targets, saying “COVID writes its own rules, you don’t get to set the agenda”.

Mr Morrison (above right) also said Australia’s borders would be kept “closed for as long as we have to, but only as long as we have to”.

Economists and tourism industry leaders have warned the lack of a timetable means there is no way to plan for when internatio­nal borders would reopen, another major setback for the overseas visitor market worth $45bn a year to the Australian economy.

Qantas, which in February pinned its target of resuming internatio­nal flights to the initial vaccine rollout target of October, has now warned it is “monitoring” recent developmen­ts, though it has not yet changed its plans.

The internatio­nal tourist market, worth $6bn to the Queensland economy in 2019, will be the sector hardest hit by the bedevilled vaccine rollout program.

Tourism sector lead and partner at Deloitte Access Economics Adele Labine-Romain said regions reliant on internatio­nal tourism such as Cairns and the Gold Coast were significan­tly exposed.

“Every month (of delay) is billions of dollars (for the tourism industry),” she said.

Margy Osmond, chief executive for national peak body Tourism and Transport Forum, said the industry’s survival post-JobKeeper was predicated on certainty around state borders and fast, efficient rollout of the vaccine.

“The federal government need to rethink how they support our industry … we will need a replacemen­t for JobKeeper now,” she said.

The Australia Institute chief economist Dr Richard Denniss said the decision not to provide a timetable or target for the vaccine rollout meant businesses “have no idea how to plan for the future”.

“When you realise how big the tourism industry and foreign student market is, really this is very bad for a wide range of small and large business,” he said.

“The fact that there is no target to aim for means that plans can’t even be made.

“There are all sorts of investment­s that won’t take place, without even a glimpse of a timetable.”

Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly yesterday said the goal was to have all healthcare, aged care and disability care workers vaccinated by mid-2021. But he refused to release government projection­s on how long it will be until all Australian­s have their first jab of the vaccine now that the AstraZenec­a vaccine was no longer preferred for people aged under 50.

Prof Kelly also refused to say how many doses of the Pfizer vaccine Australia had received so far, only that 40 million would have arrived by the end of 2021.

The latest vaccinatio­n data shows 1.17 million vaccine doses have been administer­ed in Australia, 109,314 of those by the Queensland program.

 ?? Picture: Christian Gilles ?? Patient Lyn Robertson receives her jab at a medical centre.
Picture: Christian Gilles Patient Lyn Robertson receives her jab at a medical centre.

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