Minister defends decision to allow protest

 

TOURISM Minister Kate Jones has defended the decision to allow 30,000 protesters to mass in Brisbane at the weekend while telling tourism operators they can only reopen if they do so 'safely'.

Ms Jones was at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on Monday to announce $11 million in State Government funding to help Gold Coast theme parks pay workers laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Tourism Minister Kate Jones at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, which will open on June 26. Picture Glenn Hampson
Tourism Minister Kate Jones at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, which will open on June 26. Picture Glenn Hampson

 

The Sanctuary has announced it will become the first Coast park to reopen, on June 26 - but patrons will have to book as part of a COVID-safe plan.

Asked why the Government had allowed 30,000 demonstrators to attend the Black Lives Matter rally in King George Square on Saturday but venues such theme parks and football stadiums could not reopen to the public, Ms Jones blamed the protesters for defying health advice.

"I didn't let 30,000 protesters protest in Brisbane (and) neither did the Government," she said.

"The Premier said very clearly do not go to the protest. The Police Commissioner said do not go to the protest. Some people, the majority of them young, chose to ignore that health advice."

But despite the controversial rally - where protesters largely flouted public gathering and social distancing rules for which others have been heavily fined - Ms Jones said theme parks, stadiums and other large scale-venues could not reopen without COVID-safe plans.

Ms Jones said the 'Queensland, You're Good to Go' tourism campaign launched at the weekend by the State Government 'reinforces that our industry understands that to reopen, we have to reopen safely'.

"And that means training our staff on social distancing, on hand sanitisation, on making sure our venues are able to cope with larger masses of movement in venues," she said.

"So those COVID-safe plans are being examined by Queensland Health, developed with industry and Queensland Tourism Industry Council and they're being approved as we speak."

Clark Kirby, boss of Village Roadshow theme parks Sea World, Movie World and Wet 'n' Wild, said it was ' certainly very frustrating' to see images of Saturday's protest while his parks remained closed.

Mr Kirby said the theme park group had submitted a COVID-safe plan to Queensland Health and hoped to reopen Sea World in time for at least the second week of the upcoming school holidays.