Scott Stewart MP. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Scott Stewart MP. Picture: Alix Sweeney

QLD OPEN: NQ pressure gets deal over line

QUEENSLANDERS will be allowed to take unlimited travel within the sunshine state and overnight stays from noon today.

Gatherings of up to 20 people will also be allowed from today, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced.

Townsville MP Scott Stewart said the decision was made following the pressure put on his South East colleagues by North Queensland advocates.

"It all started last Friday when Townsville Enterprise Limited contacted me and said they had partnered with Cairns and Mackay with a proposal," Mr Scott said.

"That's when it really ramped up and it's been a long week of discussions to get this over the line (and) you guys (Townsville Bulletin) have really played a role in this too.

"I just got in and rang as many people from the Premier's department and the Premier."

Mr Scott said he fought hard to counter public health concerns put to him by taking a 'sensical approach'.

"Debate with me was that you've got active cases in Cairns but I refuted that with the denser population and ability to travel in the South East so that's just a null in void argument," he said.

"250 kilometres in the south east corner gets you absolutely everywhere you want to go but when you get outside of that and particularly North Queensland it doesn't get you to the next major city."

"Now, the importance will be having that COVID safe app for appropriate tracking."

The announcement comes only a week after rejecting a potential North Queensland 'travel bubble' and suggesting the state needed to closely follow the state government's 'Road Map to Easing Restrictions', Thuringowa MP Aaron Harper celebrated the early ease and potential for tourism operators.

"This is very positive news for North Queensland. We have been working closely with industry advocates in the region," he said.

"This is a positive sign that we will get more than a North Queensland bubble. We will get people from across Queensland travelling to our part of the world.

"This is because of the great job we have done. It is very important we don't take our eye off the ball and become complacent."

 

Opposition leader Deb Frecklington (left) and Thuringowa MP Aaron Harper (right) have erupted into a war of words after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk refused to weigh in on the NQ bubble plan.
Opposition leader Deb Frecklington (left) and Thuringowa MP Aaron Harper (right) have erupted into a war of words after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk refused to weigh in on the NQ bubble plan.

 

Ms Palaszczuk said the easing of restrictions was brought forward due to the "remarkable" work the public has done in abiding by restrictions and keeping the number of COVID-19 cases low.

The Premier stood firm on the state's borders remaining closed to interstate travellers.

From midday June 12, all restaurants and cafes that have extra room beyond the four square metre rule will be allowed to cater for up to 20 people in each section of the venue.

Raven Tours operator Rod Jones said he was in a state of 'happy disbelief' following the announcement.

"It's caught me off-guard but wow, it's great news," Mr Jones said.

"It took three months after the last year's floods to get going and at the start of the year I had so much momentum and had 10 tours that were all in operation.

"So it was devastating when COVID hit."

Mr Jones said his micro tourism business offered curated tours aimed at locals to help them rediscover the best parts of our region.

"People are going to really want to get out and we always said there was going to be a surge in booking as soon as people can explore," he said.

"I'm already in the process of ramping things up with our food and wine tour fully booked out in July.

"Hearing this just means maybe finally I can have an amazing end to the year."

 

 

Owner of Raven Tours, Rod Jones. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Owner of Raven Tours, Rod Jones. Picture: Zak Simmonds

 

Originally published as QLD OPEN: NQ pressure gets deal over line


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