Eviction prevention, tax rebates for Qld

Queenslanders have been urged not to travel or flout COVID-19 restrictions over the Easter break.
Queenslanders have been urged not to travel or flout COVID-19 restrictions over the Easter break.

The Queensland government is offering land tax rebates and introducing measures to stop landlords evicting tenants unable to pay rent during the COVID-19 crisis.

Housing Minister Mick de Brenni has announced retrospective measures to put the federal government's freeze on evictions in place.

The measures, backdated to March 29, mean property owners cannot evict a tenant if their lease expires during the coronavirus public health crisis.

"This means that a property owner must offer an extension to the lease for at least a further six months," Mr de Brenni said.

Tenants who cannot pay rent and want to end their lease early will be able to do so, he added.

The eviction freeze will apply to residential, commercial and retail tenants.

Treasurer Jackie Trad says the government will offer a three-month rebate on land tax for 2019-20 to commercial and residential property owners.

This will be followed by a three-month deferral of land tax in 2020-21 for property owners who agree to provide rent relief to tenants affected by the coronavirus downturn.

Property Council Queensland executive director Chris Mountford said the relief would enable commercial, retail and industrial landowners to support tenants who have been adversely affected.

"The Queensland government is rightly encouraging outcomes that ensure the economic impact is shared fairly among tenants, landlords, financiers, and the government," Mr Mountford said.

"Landlords, tenants and their financiers are going to need to work together to find solutions that suit their circumstances. We know many of these proactive discussions are already happening."

Also in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mater Hospital in Gladstone, in Central Queensland, will be bought by the government.

A dedicated COVID-19 ward of 34 beds and an intensive care unit of 12 beds will be established.

Ten new cases of coronavirus overnight brought the state's tally to 953 as authorities continue to clamp down on travel across the state.

Queenslanders have also been warned if they do travel to a COVID-19 hotspot anywhere in the country over Easter, they will be required to go into 14 days of isolation from midnight on Friday.

"You should not be leaving your own home at this point of time," Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said on Thursday.

"We cannot relax. We need to remain vigilant. If we relax the restrictions, we could see a rapid increase in the number of COVID cases as we have seen in other countries."

This means even Queenslanders returning to the state will now require a pass and exemptions to strict coronavirus regulations to get home.

Police said they are making themselves more visible and are monitoring traffic flow throughout the state to clamp down on people who ignore directions not to travel over Easter.

Beaches on the Gold Coast, islands off the Queensland coast, camping grounds and national parks throughout the state have been closed to visitors.

Redland City Mayor Karen Williams, meanwhile, wants the state government to stop people changing their driver's licence address to North Stradbroke Island after 300 applications were made in just over a week.

The loophole could allow people who are non-residents to travel there.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the threat of the global pandemic is far from over.

"Do the right thing and stay in Queensland," she said.

"Stay in your state, stay in your region, stay in your suburb."

Australian Associated Press