LNP Member for Nanango says South Burnett small business have been given nothing but false hope with the Labor Government’s COVID-19 business grants already drying up.
Mrs Frecklington said support for small business by the Palaszczuk Government during the coronavirus restrictions has been nothing but a debacle.
“Small business is bearing the brunt of the economic ramifications of the coronavirus restrictions, yet the State Government has neglected them,” Mrs Frecklington said.
“While most other states introduced emergency grants for small business almost straight away, it took until the 19th May before the Palaszcsuk Government acknowledged grants were needed.
“And this was only due to sustained pressure from the LNP and groups like the Qld Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
“Less than one week later these grants are already closed. Many were still working with their accountant, or getting their figures sorted before they even had a chance to submit their application. It is completely unacceptable.
“There are more than 438,000 small businesses in Queensland, including thousands right here in the South Burnett and the majority have not been able to access this support. In fact, just 2.2% of small businesses will see any funding from this grant.
“I’ve been speaking with the Kingaroy Chamber of Commerce (KCCI) who are rightly concerned that our local businesses have missed out,” Deb said.
KCCI President, Damien Martoo, said the $10, 000 cash grants that Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced last week could have been a real game changer for local business, who have for the past five years been battling the repercussions of a drought declared region and now COVID -19 restrictions.
“While the announcement of the grants were very welcome by the business community to pivot, diversify and thrive, the first in best dressed structure was never going to work for small and micro, mum and dad businesses who are continuing to juggle chainsaws during these times, just to stay open,” Mr Martoo said.
“Let’s put some real investment into the real regions. Real grants for small business that are awarded on each individual applications merit. Real funding to build transport corridors from the food bowls to ports and airports. Real funding for water infrastructure to give greater diversification in the agriculture sector,” he said.
Mrs Frecklington also noted that around 97% of Queensland’s small businesses have not received a dollar of coronavirus payroll tax relief from the Palaszczuk Labor Government as their annual wage bills do not meet the $1.3m payroll tax threshold.
“And then there’s the QRIDA COVID-19 Small Business loans mess, which closed to new applicants without warning on April 18. I know many businesses spent money to put in applications and were left worse off for having tried to apply,” Deb said.
The Palaszczuk Labor Government has today used coronavirus as an excuse to delay the implementation of their own drought reforms.
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said the coronavirus should be a catalyst for fast-tracking drought support for Queensland farmers, not delaying it.
“The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t made the drought go away and our farmers need help now more than ever,” Ms Frecklington said.
“Drought and water security remain among the biggest issues facing Queenslanders.
“Labor have clearly pushed reform beyond the October 31 election because they don’t have a plan for water security and drought is not a priority.”
Ms Frecklington said water security projects were a key part of the LNP’s economic plan to get Queensland working again.
“The LNP is backing major dam projects in regional Queensland, including the visionary New Bradfield Scheme,” she said.
“The New Bradfield Scheme is a bold and ambitious project which will help drought-proof Queensland and get its economic X-factor back.
“It will deliver tens of thousands of new jobs, more water for farmers, a new food-bowl in the outback bigger than Tasmania, and enough hydro-electric power for 800,000 homes.
“The LNP understands that water means jobs and land without water is worthless.
“Only the LNP has a plan for water security and to get Queensland working again.”
Despite 67.4 per cent of Queensland being drought-declared, Labor Minister Mark Furner today said the implementation of Drought Program Reforms had been postponed until 1 July 2021.
LNP Shadow Minister for Agriculture Tony Perrett said Queensland farmers had been seeking drought reform for years.
“It is now crystal clear that Annastacia Palaszczuk and Labor have no drought policy whatsoever,” Mr Perrett said.
“Labor’s only plan for drought it to slash $50 million in drought subsidies while also abolishing fodder freight payments.
“The LNP is standing shoulder to shoulder with farmers and we’ve ruled out passing on these heartless cuts.
“Just as we have seen with other important issues for Queensland farmers like electricity tariffs and water prices, Labor has put drought reform in the too-hard basket and pushed it past the election.”
Mr Perrett said Mark Furner commissioned an independent report into drought reform in 2018, which report he did not release until June 2019.
“At the time, Mark Furner said he would work with farmers and their representative groups to roll out new reforms by 2021*,” he said.
“This consultation never happened** and there never was any intention of actually delivering the reform Labor promised farmers at the height of drought.
“Mark Furner clearly has no idea and this drought deferral only again reinforces his disastrous reputation in rural and regional Queensland,” Mr Perrett said.
As well as the New Bradfield Scheme, the LNP’s plan for dams includes Nullinga Dam near Cairns, Rookwood Weir near Rockhampton, raising the Burdekin Falls Dam wall, Emu Swamp Dam near Stanthorpe and Urannah Dam near Mackay.
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington today called for an immediate halt to the tearing down of the Paradise Dam wall after the Commission of Inquiry’s report into the dam recommended that further testing be completed.
“The report states that the former Labor Government charged with constructing the dam failed in its basic responsibility to ensure a proper and adequate build,” Ms Frecklington said.
“The report highlights issues around the project’s management, materials and methods which make for sobering reading.
“The lack of proper peer revision was cited as a major example of the failed construction process. The construction project was flawed from the top down.
“The buck stops with former Premier Peter Beattie and the former Labor Government that rushed the construction and cut corners to save time and money.
“The report endorses the expert advice the LNP has relied upon in calling for further testing to be undertaken before the wall is torn down.
“The fact that the Palaszczuk Labor Government has accepted the Commission’s findings, including that there needs to be more testing, is an endorsement of the LNP’s plan for Paradise Dam.
“It is time for Labor to abandon its plan to spend $100 million tearing down the wall when clearly more testing is urgently needed.”
In response to the findings of the investigation, the LNP has committed to working with experts, including Dr Paul Rizzo, to fix Paradise Dam.
A Deb Frecklington LNP Government will:
An LNP government would also investigate and progress more upstream and downstream water storage options, reflecting the party’s plan for future water security in Queensland.
LNP Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett said the report provided the region’s residents with more evidence that Labor’s imminent demolition of the dam wall is unnecessary.
“The Bundaberg Regional Council and Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers commissioned a study which found $2.4 billion would be wiped from the Queensland economy over the next 30 years if Paradise Dam was lowered,” Mr Bennett said.
“Labor is treating the people of Wide Bay with complete contempt, as they have done throughout the whole Paradise Dam saga.
“The decision to pull down the dam will have huge repercussions for jobs and locals deserve the truth.
“Labor is more interested in covering up its botched building of the dam rather than in protecting the community and jobs.”
Member for Bundaberg David Batt said the people of Wide Bay deserved water security.
“It’s unacceptable that Labor only has a plan to tear down the dam and no plan to fix it,” Mr Batt said.
“Labor’s handling of Paradise Dam from day one has been scandalous and has been a kick in the guts for our economy.”
Member for Callide Colin Boyce said the Palaszczuk Labor Government was anti-regions, anti-dams and anti-jobs.
“Only the LNP has a plan for the future to deliver water security for Queensland,” Mr Boyce said.
“Fixing Paradise Dam and exploring all options both downstream and upstream are priorities for the LNP.
“If you have water you have jobs, it’s that simple. Queensland needs more dams and weirs, not less.
“Labor’s demolition job must be stopped.”
The Commission of Inquiry report can be downloaded at: https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/tableOffice/TabledPapers/2020/5620T801.pdf
The Palaszczuk Labor Government’s plan to tear down Paradise Dam even further is another devastating blow to local jobs and the economic future of the Wide Bay-Burnett region, LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said today.
“The Palaszczuk Labor Government should be stopping the dam wall being torn down, not tearing it down even further,” Ms Frecklington said.
“Securing local jobs and providing job security is the biggest issue in Queensland and once again the Palaszczuk Labor Government is tone deaf to the economic concerns of this region.
“Labor demolishing the dam further will deal another devastating blow to the economic security of the Wide Bay-Burnett region.
“The capacity of Paradise Dam will be slashed by four per cent if Labor lowers it more than five metres.
“Local growers say this will increase the economic impact of Labor’s decision to $2.7 billion.
“The region simply cannot afford to lose jobs, lose money and lose its water security as well.”
Ms Frecklington said Labor needed to look closely at the independent advice of US dam expert Dr Paul Rizzo, who has reported that the dam can be repaired for $25 million.
“An LNP Government will work with experts such as Dr Paul Rizzo to fix Paradise Dam,” Ms Frecklington said.
“Water means jobs and now more than ever jobs are desperately needed in the Bundaberg region.
“The only way to protect local jobs, safeguard the region’s water security and stop Paradise Dam from being torn down is to change the government.”
The LNP has moved a motion in Parliament today to disallow Subordinate Legislation 233 and 234 from the Environmental Protection (Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) and Other Legislation Amendment Regulation 2019.
LNP Shadow Minister for Agriculture Tony Perrett said the disallowance motion shows that the LNP is the only party in Queensland that supports farmers and backs regional jobs.
“Labor’s changes to reef regulations were rammed through by the government and the LNP opposed them then and we still do now,” Mr Perrett said.
“Labor’s reef regulations don’t strike a balance between preserving the environment and protecting local jobs.
“They treat farmers like criminals and tie them up in unworkable red and green tape.
“That is why the LNP has consistently opposed and voted against Labor’s unfair Reef laws and we will do everything in our power to stop their implementation.”
LNP Shadow Minister for Natural Resources Dale Last said only an LNP Government will work alongside farmers and communities for environmental outcomes, instead of forcing unworkable laws on them.
“The LNP will work with farmers and protect local jobs and provide an economic future for our cane and grazing industries,” Mr Last said.
“We will not allow our hard-working farmers to be tied up in unnecessary regulation that will cost jobs in rural and regional Queensland.
“The Palaszczuk Labor Government doesn’t care about regional jobs, but I won’t stop fighting for each and every Queensland farmer.
“Deb Frecklington and the LNP have shown strong leadership by standing up for farmers in North Queensland in the fight to restore sensible and workable reef laws in Queensland.”
Time is running out for Annastacia Palaszczuk to backflip on her damaging refusal to provide coronavirus relief grants to small businesses.
Months after the coronavirus crisis began, Queensland is the only state in the country with no direct grant support program for struggling small businesses.
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said many small businesses would struggle to keep their doors open as a consequence of Labor’s refusal to help.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy but they have been ignored by Labor,” Ms Frecklington said.
“While Labor are distracted by their integrity crisis, tens of thousands of small businesses are in danger of folding.
“If you care about jobs, you have to back small business. The LNP is demanding Queensland small businesses get the same support that they get in NSW, Victoria and everywhere else.”
LNP Shadow Minister for Small Business Fiona Simpson said the State Government’s payroll tax measures had benefited only 3% of Queensland’s 438,000 small businesses.
Ms Simpson said the QRIDA loans program had also been mismanaged, with businesses paying to prepare and submit applications only to be advised by the Palaszczuk Labor Government that the program had closed and their applications would not be considered.
“A huge part of our economy has been totally ignored by Labor,” Ms Simpson said.
“Every day that Labor fails to help will cost more jobs. Queensland’s small business people and their employees deserve the same help that is offered in other states.
“This is more proof that Labor has no plan and no Budget to rebuild our economy and protect jobs.”
The LNP is calling on Queenslanders to back its petition to help small businesses that have been denied coronavirus support by the Palaszczuk Labor Government.
Ms Simpson urged Queenslanders to sign at: queensland.typeform.com/to/dX92Rp
The LNP has called on the Palaszczuk Labor Government to accelerate the easing of restrictions in regions without any active coronavirus cases to protect local jobs and restart the economy.
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington wrote to the Premier **letter attached** and said there was no reason why businesses in places like Townsville, Mackay, Central Queensland, Wide Bay and the Darling Downs can’t see a lifting of restrictions earlier, while maintaining appropriate social distancing and other mitigation measures.
“These regions are not covered in the Outback concessions and they are crying out for economic leadership,” Ms Frecklington said.
“There must be a common-sense approach to easing restrictions and saving jobs in regional economies.
“Geographically, most of this vast state has no active cases and there is an opportunity for regional economies to be fast-tracked out of lockdown.
“However, it’s up to the Palaszczuk Government to decide where and how quickly restrictions are eased.
“A one-size-fits-all approach to lifting restrictions won’t work in a state as large and diverse as Queensland and it doesn’t make sense either.
“This health crisis must not be allowed to become an economic crisis, with jobs needlessly lost in regional communities.”
The LNP has called on the Palaszczuk Labor Government to fast-track the Prime Minister’s economic recovery plan in regions without any active coronavirus cases.
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said the Prime Minister’s plan paved the way for the re-opening of Queensland’s economy and the protection of local jobs.
But she urged the Palaszczuk Labor Government to prioritise the lifting of restrictions in regions with very low or no active coronavirus cases, including Townsville, Mackay and Central Queensland.
“I welcome Scott Morrison’s leadership in delivering a roadmap out of coronavirus restrictions,” Ms Frecklington said.
“Business now has the roadmap and certainty it needs.
“However, it’s up to the Palaszczuk Labor Government to decide where and how quickly restrictions are eased.
“It makes no sense for regions that have not seen any new cases of covid-19 for weeks to remain locked down.
“There are over 200,000 Queenslanders out of work because of coronavirus and many others have taken pay cuts or are on forced leave.
“This health crisis must not be allowed to become an economic crisis, with jobs lost needlessly in regional communities.
“The Premier must fast-track communities with low or no active cases through the roadmap to recovery.
“There must be a common-sense approach to easing restrictions and saving jobs.
“A one-size-fits-all approach to lifting restrictions won’t work in a state as large and diverse as Queensland.”
The Palaszczuk Labor Government’s decision to strip almost 5000 rural fire brigade volunteers of their uniforms and ban them from fire stations over the botched rollout of blue cards is a disgrace, the LNP said today.
Rural fire brigade volunteers who have so far not applied for blue cards have also been warned that they will be sacked if they do not apply within 30 days – even though the backburning season is about to begin in much of Queensland (see attached letter).
LNP Shadow Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Lachlan Millar said the looming mass sacking was just the latest example of the Palaszczuk Labor Government’s appalling treatment of rural firies.
“For the Palaszczuk Labor Government to be sending out termination letters to rural fire volunteers because Labor have botched their blue card process is a farce,” Mr Millar said.
“It is an absolute disgrace that those volunteers, who have stood on the frontline defending their communities, are being kicked out over paperwork.
“A mass exodus of thousands of rural fire brigade volunteers is happening right now and it must be stopped.
“Queensland can’t afford to have thousands of rural firies walk away.
“The fact that some regions will be losing half their brigade members right before fire season is alarming.
“Community safety is important, but the blue card requirement process demanded by Annastacia Palaszczuk has been bungled from day one.
“It’s time for Annastacia Palaszczuk to fix this mess before it’s too late.
“The LNP will never unfairly sack our valuable and hardworking rural firefighters who sacrifice so much to keep their communities safe.
“We need our rural fire volunteers now more than ever for the upcoming bushfire season.
“Labor’s arrogant behaviour is putting our communities at risk.”
Today’s announcement on irrigation water pricing is more about the upcoming state election than helping farmers in the long-term, the LNP has warned.
LNP Shadow Minister for Natural Resources Dale Last said farmers were already paying too much for water and needed a long-term solution to give them a viable and secure future.
“This announcement fails to address the larger structural issues that affect water pricing in Queensland,” Mr Last said.
“Farmers are already paying too much for water and kicking the issue into the long grass will only continue the pain for another year.
“It’s clear that Annastacia Palaszczuk and her Water Minister are not listening to the concerns of irrigators.
“Labor has no plan for affordable water for our farmers, which means no plans for jobs and no support for our agriculture industry.
“Water ensures our supermarket shelves are stocked with food and products we need.
“We need to ensure water remains affordable for Queensland businesses, including farmers.
“Putting more money in the pockets of farmers at this critical time means they have more money to keep local jobs.
“The LNP understands that affordable water and electricity for farmers creates jobs in rural and regional Queensland.
“Sadly, Labor has failed to deliver affordable water and this announcement will cost future investment and regional jobs, particularly in the agricultural supply chain.”
LNP Member for Nanango, Deb Frecklington, is calling on local residents to stand up for small businesses that have been ignored by the Palaszczuk Labor Government in the Covid-19 crisis.
Mrs Frecklington said Queensland was the only state where small businesses were not being given emergency assistance grants by their State Government.
“This decision shows that Annastacia Palaszczuk and Jackie Trad don’t value our small businesses,” Mrs Frecklington said.
“I’m urging residents to sign a petition demanding the Palaszczuk Labor Government reverse its decision.
“There are more than 438,000 small businesses in Queensland, including thousands right here in the Nanango Electorate, and they are doing it tough right now.
“Labor is ignoring these businesses, but the LNP isn’t.
“We’ve started a petition to put pressure on Labor to increase the support they are giving small businesses.
“I’m asking people who value our small businesses to sign our petition and send a message to Annastacia Palaszczuk that she must act.
“It’s time to give our small businesses in the the Nanango Electorate the same support that small businesses get in every other state.”
Around 97% of Queensland’s small businesses have not received a dollar of coronavirus payroll tax relief from the Palaszczuk Labor Government as their annual wage bills do not meet the $1.3m payroll tax threshold.
Meanwhile, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia have all introduced direct grants of between $10,000 - $17,500 for small businesses.
Deb urged locals to sign the petition at queensland.typeform.com/to/dX92Rp