Currently, the big economic debate in Queensland concerns the border with NSW, which remains closed to interstate visitors. Earlier today I spoke with my old friend and former Treasury colleague Joe Branigan, Director of Tulipwood Economics, who thinks the border should never have been closed in the first place and should be reopened immediately. I highly recommend you listen to our conversation (link below) for some great commentary from Joe on the public policy approach to COVID-19.
For instance, check out Joe’s comments at around 18:00, where Joe notes:
…on the one hand, I agree with this staged approach [to relaxing restrictions], but, on the other hand, there are certain measures that I think never should have been in place in the first place, such as the border closure. And that, as I said, is indicative of this abandonment of this proper policy evaluation framework where you think about the costs and benefits of each policy and try to match them up such that the benefits exceed the cost…That went out the window in January, early February for justifiable reasons, because we didn’t know…we knew hardly anything about this virus.
Also, check out Joe’s thoughts at around 12:15:
…we can adjust policy to target protecting those people [at risk] without…crashing the economy into a brick wall, and I think the longer the social distancing measures are in place, the more people will start to question the costs of them…
At 15:00 I ask Joe whether Pauline Hanson and Clive Palmer’s High Court challenge to the border closure is simply political grandstanding.
Regarding Australia’s tourism services trade deficit (mentioned at around 21:00), which suggests increased domestic tourism could make up for lost international tourism as the Prime Minister has been saying, check out Tourism Research Australia’s National Tourism Satellite Account.
Finally, I’d recommend listening to Joe’s Chermside Shopping Centre story at around 25:00 illustrating the unintended consequences of restrictions.
Queensland-NSW border marker. Photo by Jennifer Tunny.