Queensland has recorded no new cases of COVID-19 but now faces an economic crisis as jobs plunge in the coronavirus-ravaged economy.
Almost 130,000 people lost their jobs in April, leaving the state with the second-highest unemployment rate in the country.
“It is a really sobering thought when you think about the number of people in this state who don’t have jobs because of no fault of their own,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Thursday.
“We have not ever had to deal with anything like this in our lifetime.”
Her government will pivot from flattening the curve of new diagnoses to finding a way out of an economic nightmare.
In a matter of weeks 129,000 people lost their jobs, compared with 221,400 people in NSW and 127,100 people in Victoria, figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show.
The premier has acknowledged people and families forced out of work will be hurting.
“Families are very distressed,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“I am very conscious of the job that is being placed on me and my team to make sure that we give people hope, confidence, and that we give them an opportunity to get back into work in a post-COVID environment.”
Officials expect the state of the economy will worsen but just how bad it gets will depend on how quickly the state eases virus restrictions.
Of the 1052 cases recorded in Queensland, only 16 people are yet to recover.
Authorities are beginning to roll back the social distancing measures that were imposed to control the spread of the virus, however, a return to normality is still weeks away.
“I know a lot of people think we can just open up tomorrow and everything is back to normal, but it can’t be back to normal straightaway because we are still dealing with the health crisis,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
A more accurate set of state financial figures will be released in coming weeks.
The LNP said the figures were proof of the Palaszczuk government’s economic failure.
“Queensland went into the coronavirus lockdown with one of the weakest economies in the country and that will be a drag on our recovery,” deputy party leader Tim Mander said.
“Labor was the last state government in the country to introduce an economic stimulus package and they’re the only government not giving direct support to small businesses.”
Australian Associated Press