Desperate plea for plan to save Queensland
Queensland is in desperate need of a bold plan for the future, the state's biggest ever sentiment survey, The Courier-Mail's Your Say 2020, has revealed.
While the survey's 8000-plus respondents listed "beautiful", "sunny", "safe" and "friendly" as the top words to describe Queensland, next up was "broke".
Creating jobs and driving down crime were overwhelmingly the top priorities across Queensland and the biggest issues the State Government needs to address.
SCROLL DOWN TO READ THE FULL SURVEY RESULTS
More than 86 per cent of respondents agreed "Queensland needs a bold plan for the future", even the majority of those who backed the incumbent Labor Government.
Creating jobs for Queenslanders was the top priority across the state (40.4 per cent), followed by cutting state debt (20.5 per cent) then tackling youth crime (15.1 per cent).
Less significant were driving down energy prices (8.2 per cent) and reducing surgery time waiting list (5.2 per cent).
The Gold Coast is pleading for jobs while north Queensland is desperate for an end to the scourge of youth crime.
In North Queensland, an incredible 45.9 per cent put tackling youth crime as their number one government priority, double the number calling for more jobs (22.7 per cent).
Older northerners were even more concerned, with crime topping the list for more than half (51.5 per cent) of seniors aged 65-74 years.
In the far north, 30.6 per cent wanted an end to the juvenile crime wave, compared to 26.4 per cent chasing jobs.
On the COVID-smashed Gold Coast, it is all about jobs (38.6 per cent) and cutting state debt (19.6 per cent).
Look at the mortgage and school fees age brackets, and the cry for jobs gets even more desperate: 46 per cent for anyone aged between 35 and 54 years.
Statewide, Queenslanders are almost evenly split on the question of whether borders should remain shut to states with community COVID transmission - 49.9 per cent open, 50.1 per cent shut.
But go to the Gold Coast, and the push for borders to open gathers far more followers, with close to 60 per cent pushing for the gates to Queensland to reopen.
Four-fifths believed the State Government should invest more in regional Queensland, with support higher in regional areas like the north (93.8 per cent) and southwest (92.4 per cent), and lowest on the Gold Coast (72.7 per cent).
Business groups echoed the call for a bold plan to lift Queensland out of COVID and beyond.
The "Unite and Recover" plan - that state ministers have been holding almost as a totem in public - lacked detail and much that addressed the COVID need.
Property Council Queensland boss Chris Mountford said business wanted to see more detail.
"One of the frustrations across our membership at the moment is a sense there isn't a bold vision, with that strong economic focus coming from the State Government at the moment," Mr Mountford said.
"The economic recovery strategy that they've released is really just a statement of things that are already occurring and some broader statements, nothing really concrete that gives that sense of a of a bold vision going forward.
In the context of an election next month now's the time to start putting those ideas forward."
SCROLL DOWN TO READ THE FULL SURVEY RESULTS
Chamber of Commerce of Industry Queensland general manager of policy and advocacy Amanda Rohan said Queensland needed a clear plan for where it was going and what it was spending public money on in the face of looming tight budgets.
"Even pre-COVID our thoughts were that we really need a vision for the future for Queensland," Ms Rohan said.
"Let's transform Queensland's economy, building on where we are now, building on our resource sector, building on agriculture.
"But let's look for future opportunities.
"We're not seeing a cohesive vision for the state.
"We've gone through a few iterations in the past, We've been the Sunshine State, the smart state, we really consider that we need to be a future looking, future facing state.
"We need to know where the light on the hill is, where are we going.
"It helps us really focus decision making and budget spending.
"We're going to be in times of tight budgets for the future.
"Let's make sure that every bit of spending is really going to where it should be to build our economy and transform it.
"We've been very vocal on the current government economic recovery plan and the lack of detail around the cohesive approach to their plan.
"We know lots of announcements have been made over the past three weeks or four weeks since the plan was released. But we can't see how it all fits together."
Priscilla Radice, Infrastructure Association of Queensland chief executive officer, said government spending alone would not get Queensland what it wants.
"We need to collectively design a new playbook.
"Investment in people and productive infrastructure is vital. The private sector needs to be
allowed a greater role.
"Government spend alone will not deliver jobs and prosperity."
A State Government spokesperson said it was spending more than New South Wales per head and had put in place measures that would keep 334,000 Queenslanders in jobs.
"This has been recognised by the Australian Bureau of Statistics National Accounts, detailing that Queensland'seconomic recovery expenditure has been the most significant in the nation in cushioning the impacts of the recession.
"The ABS said that falls in household spending was partly offset by 'a 4.6 per cent rise in government consumption expenditure driven by increased state and local spending in response to the COVID-19 pandemic'.
"This data also shows that the recession was less severe in Queensland (-5.9%), South Australia (-5.8%) and Western Australia (-6%), where borders were closed to other states with community transmission.
"This is being confirmed by data all over the world - that economies are faring better where the virus is more contained."
"Our economic recovery plan now includes $8 billion of announced commitments with the $500 million Renewable Energy Fund and the $500 million Backing Queensland Business Investment Fund.
"And we have made it clear at page 3 of the COVID-19 Fiscal and Economic Review that a $4 billion provision has been identified for borrowings to support the economic recovery.
"That will take our total additional economic support to $11 billion.
"We have been clear about how our economic support is being provided."
They said the State Government had made $196m in grants to 20,000 small businesses, just extended more than $1b in payroll tax relief and given $1b in loans to 7,000 businesses.
Back on the cheyne gang again
Though he is normally filled with optimism and looking towards the brighter side of a situation, former world surf tour legend and Gold Coast local Cheyne Horan has admitted things have been tough on Queensland's glitter strip.
Having operated his surf school at Surfers Paradise, Burleigh, Kirra and The Spit, Cheyne has experienced the highs and lows of the region's tourism industry, with his primary market being tourists from interstate and overseas.
"With COVID, things have died for us, and you have that feeling all along the coast," he told The Courier-Mail.
"It's really killed things, and it'll take a long time for the coast to recover and bounce back."
Like many others, Cheyne has had to take up a secondary job to support his family, now working on driveways for Concrete Doctor.
"Like everyone else, I've got a family to support, and at the moment I can't do that with just the surf school," he said.
Originally published as Desperate plea for plan to save Queensland