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Monday, 16 June 2003
Page: 16488

Mr LLOYD (9:25 PM) —Tonight I would like to talk about the tourism industry in Australia, particularly on the Central Coast of New South Wales. As most Australians would be aware, the tourism industry is one of the major industries in Australia and employs many hundreds of thousands of people in a whole range of diverse occupations. I worked in the tourism industry myself for a number of years, as ferry master and skipper of the cruise ship Lady Hawkesbury.I saw first-hand how important the tourism industry was to employment for young people.

The reason I think the tourism industry is so important is that it takes in a whole range of occupations. It is a career where you do not have to have high educational qualifications. Although qualifications and degrees are a great asset to many people, there are many people who do not have the opportunity to gain those qualifications. On the Lady Hawkesbury, we took on many young Central Coast people who had very few skills and very little higher education. If they had a good work ethic, we gave them the training they needed as galley hands, dishwashers, waitresses and bar people. Years on, many of those young people are still working in the tourism industry and have made it not just a job but a career.

I want to pay tribute to the role of Central Coast Tourism, which is based in Terrigal on the Central Coast of New South Wales, in my electorate. Central Coast Tourism is under the chairmanship of Peter Hale and CEO Horst Endrulat. The organisation is always on the lookout to promote the beautiful Central Coast of New South Wales. Certainly we have a lot to be proud of in respect of tourism. We are blessed with some wonderful beaches, beautiful national parks and glorious waterways, which we are keen to promote.

The tourism industry has gone through very difficult times over recent years, and particularly in the last 18 months or so. The September 11 tragedy, the tragedy in Bali in October last year and the threat of further international terrorism have certainly restricted international visitors. The SARS virus has restricted the number of international tourists coming to Australia, who would have in turn come to the Central Coast. But certainly the Central Coast tourism industry is not standing still. We are working very hard to promote domestic tourism and to ensure that the people who decide not to travel overseas come to the Central Coast—to Gosford, to Wyong and to the rural areas of our beautiful Central Coast—to enjoy a short break or maybe stay a little longer.

I was pleased to announce only this week that the Howard government has provided a grant of $36,498 to Central Coast Tourism under the Regional Assistance Program. The purpose of this project is to promote nature tourism. Central Coast Tourism's role is to promote the Central Coast as a holiday destination beyond its coastline and beaches by identifying and promoting many of the existing opportunities for nature based tourism, such as our national parks, state forests, rivers and lakes. This will be achieved through the enhancement of existing products, the development of new initiatives in products and infrastructure and the promotion of the region, highlighting natural attributes such as our waterways—including the beautiful Hawkesbury River and Brisbane Water—and some of our national parks.

The Australian Reptile Park is a major venture on the Central Coast that not only allows Australians and international tourists to learn a lot about Australian wildlife but also plays an important role in scientific research on the Central Coast. With regard to accommodation, we have many major hotels and bed and breakfasts, such as the B&B Cockle Bay House, which is run by Richard and Clare Keogh.

We have a lot to be very proud of on the Central Coast with respect to the tourism industry. The federal government is supporting the tourism industry strongly. I pay tribute to the Minister for Small Business and Tourism, Joe Hockey, for the release of the green paper, which shows that the federal government is doing all it can to support this very important industry now and well into the future.

Question agreed to.

The SPEAKER —Order! It being 9.30 p.m., the debate is interrupted.