Queensland’s new tourism minister has been slammed by the opposition, accused of abandoning a struggling industry and putting out mixed messaging.
As our state borders once again closed to the Greater Sydney area over the weekend, Stirling Hinchliffe was preparing for his Christmas leave.
“To take leave on that day is dead wrong, and if it was an election campaign – he wouldn’t have considered it in a million years, so the call was wrong,” Opposition Leader David Crissafulli said this morning.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT
“I don’t begrudge him taking a spell, I don’t begrudge him spending time with his family, but you’ve got a job to do sunshine, and that’s to promote the sunshine.
“He should have been on the ground,” he said.
There were reports that the Premier had to step in an order the Tourism Minister back to work, but Annastacia Palaszczuk has denied it.
“I have said at the last cabinet meeting to all ministers – that during this Summer period we could have a number of events, we could have a COVID outbreak, we could have bushfires, we could have cyclones, so everyone needs to be prepared and everyone needs to be ready to return from leave if and when the situation arises.
“Now Stirling is a senior minister, he has been working extensively all year, and he’s still working in relation to dealing with issues within the tourism industry.
“And he will continue to do that and my understanding is that he is back in Brisbane.
“I’ve made it clear to all ministers that if they need to come back they need to come back, they’re big enough to make their own decisions,” the Premier said.
However the situation continues to escalate, with the opposition now furious that Minister Hinchliffe’s messaging to Sydneysiders was to hurry up and cancel their bookings so that Queenslanders could snap them up.
“We’re expecting strong interest from interstate and Queensland holiday-makers in snapping up cancelled bookings from Greater Sydney,” Mr Hinchliffe had said yesterday.
LNP Leader David Crissafulli says this is just not the right message to be putting out.
“The statement that people in Sydney should cancel their bookings, that is an absurd statement.
“And I say to anyone in Sydney – keep the faith and stay the course, and consider a holiday in Queensland when it is safe to do so.
“But to suggest that people should pull the pin on heading north is the most absurd statement at the worst possible time.
“So if he’s going to say stupid things like that I almost want him to stay on leave,” Mr Crissafulli said.
Queensland is set to review the border call on January 8 at this stage, with all new infections in Sydney able to be traced back to the Northern Beaches cluster.
Therefore, the opposition remains hopeful that Sydneysiders could still be able to get here before the end of January.
“I ask the state government – don’t play politics with it, and don’t put it into the never-never, and certainly don’t tell people to cancel their holidays.
“So we’ve got a date that the health minister has said they will review things. Don’t send mixed messages beyond that date.
“It still gives us almost all of January, and February and March. It’s a great time of year,” Minister Crissafulli said.
Related article: State Government “not prepared” for snap border closure