Labor packs its bags for Queensland

Dominic Giannini |

Labor is hoping a focus on the Queensland tourism industry will help it book in a federal government after the state told the party to pack its bags at the last election. 

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has been on the campaign trail in the Sunshine State since the weekend, spruiking the failures of the federal government throughout the pandemic and the impact it has had on industry. 

“Three sectors that have missed out from this government are tourism, the arts and higher education. And tourism needs to be a sector that’s valued,” he said on Tuesday. 

“When this government was first elected, they forgot to appoint a tourism minister. That says it all.”

The $28 billion Queensland tourism industry employs one in 11 workers in the state, or 234,000 Queenslanders, directly and indirectly. 

It is undoubtedly a market Labor wants to tap in to as the party targets federal seats like Flynn, Longman, Capricornia, Leichhardt and Herbert, along the coastline north of Brisbane. 

“We … need to ensure that tourism is a career (and) it’s not seen as something that people just do on a casual basis while they’re at uni,” the Labor leader said.

“It’s something that builds careers, it’s a major export for Australia and it’s something that should be valued.”

The Nationals continue to counter attacks on their seats in Queensland, where three of their MPs are retiring, by focusing on coal jobs and Labor’s climate policy.

Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is also trying to capitalise on the unpopularity that faced then opposition leader Bill Shorten in the state during the 2019 campaign. 

“You haven’t got the ticker to stand behind your coal miners,” he said. 

“Albo, you’re a goose. Wrong place, wrong part of the country. Go back to Sydney.”

The deputy prime minister also went on the offensive after Mr Albanese spoke out about COVID-19 conspiracy comments made by retiring Nationals MP George Christensen. 

Mr Albanese said the “dangerous and reckless” comments put health at risk.

Mr Joyce said attacking Mr Christensen would only score “brownie points” in Sydney.

“So, go back down to where you’re wanted,” he said.