Australia’s unemployment hot spots are in states that have closed their border to other states or territories with very few or even no COVID-19 cases.
Mandurah, south of Perth, has the dubious honour of having the highest jobless rate of 18 per cent.
The West Australian coastal city’s jobless rate has more than doubled since February, when it stood at 6.9 per cent before the coronavirus lockdowns.
Queensland’s Wide Bay region north of Brisbane, covering the cities of Bundaberg and Hervey Bay near Fraser Island, has Australia’s second highest jobless rate of 17 per cent – a surge from 8.8 per cent in just five months.
Both areas have a jobless level that is two-and-a-half times the national average of 7.5 per cent – itself the worst unemployment level since early 1994.
A CommSec analysis of Australia’s 20 worst areas for unemployment showed 13 of them are in states that have closed their borders, even to people from other states with very few or zero COVID-19 cases.
Queensland dominates this list, with nine areas having particularly high unemployment, from the Gold Coast, Logan and Beaudesert in the state’s south to the vast outback in the west – with a 10.9 per cent jobless rate.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, facing an election on October 31, has banned all residents from New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory – which has had no active cases since July 10.
Regional NSW has very few cases, with zero on the Mid-North Coast, just one in the state’s coastal north, one in the west, five in the Hunter and New England region and zero on the central coast.
Only Sydney has high case numbers, with 183 in the west and south-west, followed by another 11 in the city’s north.
Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said tourism operators were suffering as some interstate visitors were banned from places with very few coronavirus cases.
‘Some destinations are severely affected,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘Our basic desire is to see the borders opened.’
Mr Gschwind said his state needed a ‘more nuanced and targeted’ approach to the border closures to combat COVID-19.
‘We must anticipate that there will be cases for months, possibly years in the community,’ he said.
‘What we have asked and urged the Queensland government to do for weeks is to give us greater clarity of what the triggers are, what the measures are, and address coronavirus cases and outbreaks – that’s what we want to see rather than we’re going from all open to all closed.’
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, a Queenslander, has accused his state’s Labor government of shutting out people from NSW and the ACT so it could win the election in ten weeks.
‘Lives are really being disrupted and you’ve got to ask why when the medical advice is not saying that is what is needed,’ he told the Today show.
‘If we’ve got premiers who are pursuing an elimination process, the country will go broke.’
Understandably, all states are closing their borders to Victoria, which has 4,864 active cases – keeping Melbourne and the neighbouring Mitchell Shire in a strict, Stage 4 lockdown.
Melbourne’s north-west, the epicentre of COVID-19 cases, has Australia’s third-highest jobless rate of 12.6 per cent.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is pressuring the states to reconsider closing their borders to people from other states, even where there is no COVID-19 transmission.
Western Australia has closed its border to all travellers and even its own residents trying to re-enter their state, unless they obtain a written exemption on work or compassionate grounds.
The state has two areas in list of 20 unemployment hot spots, including Mandurah and Perth’s south west, which includes the industrial hubs of Kwinana and Rockingham.
South Australia has two areas of particularly high unemployment, including Adelaide’s north and the outback.
The state is requiring everyone entering from NSW and the ACT to self-quarantine for 14 days.
The Commonwealth Bank’s Purchasing Managers’ Index of business activity found state border closures had caused freight and delivery delays and disrupted supply chains.