Flat White

The tourism cash splash: message to ScoMo’s spine – where the bloody hell are you?

11 March 2021

7:35 PM

11 March 2021

7:35 PM

For those of you who have woken to the news this morning that the Commonwealth Government has announced a special tourism sector bailout, here are some deets: 

Taxpayers will bankroll 800,000 half-priced airfares under a $1.2bn stimulus package aimed at shielding the aviation and tourism industries, and throwing a lifeline to regional economies when the $90bn JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme ends this month.

Cheap loans will also be offered to small and medium businesses coming off JobKeeper on March 28, with the federal government increasing its exposure to help keep employers afloat.

[T]he government will subsidise a 50 per cent discount on domestic fares to 13 tourism-dependent regions, including the Gold Coast, Cairns, the Whitsundays, Alice Springs, Broome, Kangaroo Island and Merimbula.

If you look at the details of the package, it is heavily biased towards Queensland where many of the problems have been caused by the populist mismanagement of the Queensland governmentAnd the Queensland Government’s contribution to this bailout? Nothing other than to create the conditions necessary for a bailout.  Very Queenslandian. 

Policies like closing the Queensland border around the Christmas and New Year period because someone sneezed somewhere tend to damage businesses requiring inter-state tourists when the Christmas and New Year period is often the busiest and most important period for tourism and hospitality businessesgenerating most of the earnings for the year. 

But this is what I wrote on 29 January 2021 – about 6 weeks ago: 

So give it a few days or a few weeks. As we approach March when JobKeeper is meant to be turned off, there will be a press conference where there will be announced a new special tourism and hospitality package bailing out all the bad decisions of State/Territory premiers. Meanwhile, the only Government that actually showed any courage and competence, the NSW Government, will be left looking the fool and the NSW taxpayers (and probably WA taxpayers) will be doubly screwed because their GST distributions will be cut also because they did not stuff up their state economies for petty political purpose. 

If I may just repeat myself: 

As we approach March when JobKeeper is meant to be turned off, there will be a press conference where there will be announced a new special tourism and hospitality package bailing out all the bad decisions of State/Territory premiers. 

So basically, I told you so! But as always, the slime is in the specifics.   

Of the special destinations getting the benefits of this package, about half are in Queensland and a single one is in NSW. 

Then there is the very interesting choice of destinations that will benefit. 

The half-price ticket program will initially operate to 13 key regions including; the Gold Coast, Cairns, the Whitsundays and Mackay region (Proserpine and Hamilton Island), the Sunshine Coast, Lasseter and Alice Springs, Launceston, Devonport and Burnie, Broome, Avalon, Merimbula, and Kangaroo Island. 

Avalon? Why not just Melbourne? Why specify Avalon? Could it be that Avalon Airport is owned by billionaire Lindsay Fox?   

And why is Merimbula the only NSW destination? Strange. Very strange. Could it be that the airline that owes its existence to the National Party (REX) flies a few planes there?  No.  Could not me. 

But for more interest, there is also the selection of both Burnie and Devonport in Tasmania.  Now the airports in these towns are all of 45 kilometres apart, unlike the 65 kilometres between Avalon and Tullamarine airports. And of all the places in Tasmania? Conveniently, both towns are miraculously in the federal electorate of Braddon, held by a Liberal MP. Oh. Only REX flies to Burnie. 

I just wanted to say I told you so. But equally who wouldn’t have predicted the political cowardice and economic incompetence of this government. 

Did the Commonwealth get any commitments in return from state premiers, especially Queensland? You know, like a promise not to baselessly close borders or to undertake some economic reform. Hell no. That would require negotiation skills and some spine. Why negotiate when it is easier to have a presser to give other people’s money away. 

For the cherry on top, not only does this package bail out incompetent state and territory leaders but it is also laundered through the Grifter Industrial Complex — the Australian airlines. Qantas (who generously give Chairman’s Lounge membership to every Commonwealth MP and Senator), private equity owned Virgin and National Party subsidiary REX. How else would you help struggling tourism and hospitality operators than by channelling it through multi-million and multi-billion dollar connected corporations? 

But this is classical LNP politics. Bail out incompetence but sprinkle in a touch of gratuitous self-interested politics. Message to Scott Morrison’s spine. Where the bloody hell are you? 

As I said, I told you so. But equally who would have predicted the concurrent political cowardice and shiftiness of the Morrison Government. Anyone who is paying even a modicum of attention. 

Stephen Spartacus writes at Sparty’s Cast.

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