The Queensland Election Should be the ‘Small Business’ Election
Queensland's upcoming election on October 31 is shaping as the COVID-19 election where in times of crisis, incumbency provides clear advantages during the campaigning phase.
The state's premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk has led the state since 2015 whose Australian Labor Party has been in power 26 of the last 31 years since 1989. The opposition leader, Deb Frecklington is a former lawyer, small business owner and minister in the last Liberal National Party government. For both major parties, the election will very much conducted against the backdrop of COVID-19 health crisis where border closures have proved popular among the electorate despite stories of personal tragedy with confusion over accessing hospitals for residents of New South Wales and the incredibly damaging impact on the state's tourism sector. While the state treasurer, Cameron Dick, provided in a tweet a bizarre claim that state borders closures have kept the Queensland economy strong. Queensland's COVID cases have predominantly been returning travellers and it is important to draw the distinction that New South Wales and Victoria account for vast majority of arrivals into Australia. The economic scorecard for the Queensland economy reflects a state where the challenges are significant. Private sector investment has halved in the last decade according to data compiled by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Queensland has the highest levels of bankruptcies nationally and prior to COVID has had an elevated unemployment rate above the national average. The mining sector which accounts for 10% of the state's revenues with royalties in excess of $5 billion annually has seen the approval process for critical projects slow over the last decade. For small business, frustrations around procurement, bidding for government contracts, an unwieldy grants process and the imposition of new levies and taxes have not quelled business community concerns about which side of politics have the best path to prosperity. The magical ingredient that made has historically made Queensland so attractive to move to has been the low tax environment and simplicity of getting on with running business. The imposition of half public holidays on Christmas Eve and the spectre of government finances being used to add more public servants to the government ranks will need to be explained to an electorate that have made considerable sacrifices since June.