Border business counts major losses as state denies hardship
BUSINESS on the Southern Downs border have been left incredulous after the Queensland Government denied state's border closures were creating financial hardship for businesses.
In a defence argument filed in the High Court, State Solicitor-General Sandy Thompson QC revealed the government "do not admit" the financial hardship is a result of the border restrictions.
For those like Mick Griffiths whose store had been left empty since closures started, the declaration was disheartening.
Owner of Stannum Hay & Farm Supplies, just 6km from Stanthorpe in NSW, saw his revenue drop by 90 per cent in the first few weeks following closures.
Now, more than two months in, that loss was estimated at 50 per cent.
"No one wants to go through police interrogations to get a bloody bag of birdseed," he said.
"Stanthorpe was our biggest clientele, but at the start, the information was so unclear - they didn't want to come over and then go into isolation for 14 days.
"Even now, some still don't want to take that plunge, there's still an uncertainty out there."
He also feared closures could have long-term effects on his business.
"Drought was hard enough on our clientele," he said.
"We build relationships with then and then they have to go elsewhere - there is a real fear customers may never return."
For Mr Griffiths a long time advocate of Stanthorpe, the closure was more personal than just business.
"We support Stanthorpe in everything we do but when this happens we aren't able get the Queenslanders to support us," he said.
"We run on Queensland power, Queensland mail, we have a Queensland schools run - everything we do is Queensland.
"This is a border community and the borders have shut us out."
Local MP James Lister said the statement "strains credulity".
"Those who do business across the border, and have to cross everyday are a relatively small proportion of the Southern Downs but they done it much harder than others," he said.
"It is the way court cases go, but anyone not in a coma for four months would say border closures affected finances."
Chronically stories of Goondiwindi farmers who had driven 200km to get to the other side of their farm, or a local cattle trader who had to add in extra 45 minutes to get to his lot in NSW, Mr Lister said there wasn't a political stance to make but that business pain had been undeniable.
"I want to point out I'm not attacking - those border closures really saved us," he said.
"But those 30-40kms every single day cost time, cost extra fuel - they are a drain on the economy."
This latest development in the High Court challenge to the controversial border lockdown could stall the case by forcing the business owners involved to prove how much revenue they have lost since restrictions were enforced.
Previous estimates have put the potential blow to tourism at $5 billion if the border remains shut until September.