His name’s Scott and he’s here to help

 

Queensland's drought recovery will be the focus when Scott Morrison touches down in the state's central west today for a four-day blitz.

It will begin with a visit to Quilpie and checking in on graziers Stephen and Annabel Tully, whom he visited in his first trip as prime minister just a week after taking the top job.

He will be hitting central, western and northwestern Queensland to inspect how drought-stricken communities have done since that first trip in August 2018, while he is also expected to visit a mine.

 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison with sheep and cattle graziers Annabel and Stephen Tully and their daughter Eve in August 2018
Prime Minister Scott Morrison with sheep and cattle graziers Annabel and Stephen Tully and their daughter Eve in August 2018


The pre-Australia Day visit, typically the starter's pistol for the political year, shows the importance of the state as a potential election looms any time after August.

Mr Morrison has not ruled out calling an election this year, despite saying he intends to be a "full-term" Prime Minister, and will need to hold key regional Queensland seats like Flynn, Leichhardt and Capricornia to retain power.

It follows Deputy Prime Minister and Regional Development Minister Michael McCormack's flying visit last week, while Opposition leader Anthony Albanese had planned his own sojourn to the sunshine state which had to be postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions and his recent car crash.

Mr Morrison will face questions over the economy, as his government prepares to end JobKeeper in March, while much of the state's north and central regions still face high unemployment.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said on Monday that JobKeeper was not the only economic support for business and families, pointing to the tax cuts, HomeBuilder grants and JobMaker hiring credit.

"Jobs are coming back, and that the economy is picking up as restrictions are eased and as we are getting to the other side of this once-in-a-century pandemic," he said.

Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said the economic recovery needed to include job security and wages growth.

"There's no decent recovery without a recovery in wages. It's as simple as that," he said.

Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers says wages growth needs to be part of the economic recovery.
Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers says wages growth needs to be part of the economic recovery.

Ahead of Friday's National Cabinet Mr Morrison also said he strongly backed the Palaszczuk Government's recent three-day lockdown, saying it was a case of being "safe not sorry".

"That was dealing with a new circumstance, we had a new strain of the virus, we didn't know how quickly it was going to move. We had to give our contract tracers time to get on top of it quickly," he said on 2GB.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's proposal to quarantine returning Australians in mining accommodation is expected to by discussed at National Cabinet.

Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd said he was "completely against the idea".

"Urban centres, such as Brisbane, are far better equipped with hospital facilities along with other medical services to handle the situation," he said.

 

Originally published as His name's Scott and he's here to help


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