Battling Queensland tourism operates should brace to lose JobKeeper when the wage subsidy ends in March, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said as a new report predicts widespread job losses in the industry.

Modelling produced for the Tourism and Transport Forum predicts up to 60,000 Queensland jobs in the industry could go between April and September if JobKeeper ends without a replacement program.

Mr Morrison has not ruled out an industry specific scheme, saying it was too early to make that call, but warned businesses who wanted certainty to plan for the scheme to end.

"At this stage the settings are as I've set them out and people should work on the basis of those settings unless they're reviewed," he said.

"Businesses have got to make calls themselves about what they're going to do. I mean, the next year, I believe it's going to be better than last year, but it's still going to be a challenging year.

"Australians would agree that taxpayers money can't be used endlessly to run the Australian economy. That is not a sustainable way forward. That just piles up debt."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the Northern Oil Refinery in Gladstone during his tour or Queensland. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch
Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the Northern Oil Refinery in Gladstone during his tour or Queensland. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Opposition treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers said ending JobKeeper would be like "cutting off life support" for cities like Cairns.

"What we've heard from the peak organisations, businesses of all sizes and workers that we've spoken to already today is that when JobKeeper ends, too many local workers will lose their jobs. We need to avoid that," Mr Chalmers said.

"International borders are closed and tourism is impacted, that doesn't just impact the tourism sector, it impacts the entire local economy."

But there is some good news with Mr Morrison talking about the potential for a Pacific travel bubble at some point.

But there are hurdles there, with health and testing facilities on the Pacific Islands not of the same standard a Australia.

"The chief medical officer and the health team have been assessing the COVID risk in Pacific countries now for many, many months," Mr Morrison said.

 

Originally published as 60K jobs on the line: PM's harsh warning to Qld tourism operators


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