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Monday, 21 June 2004
Page: 30955


Mr ENTSCH (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources) (6:04 PM) —I move:

That amendments be agreed to.

On Friday, 18 June 2004, the Senate agreed to two amendments to the Tourism Australia Bill 2004 and the Tourism Australia (Repeal and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2004. The purpose of these bills is to establish Tourism Australia, which is a key element in the delivery of the coalition government's $235 million tourism white paper, and to repeal the Australian Tourist Commission Act 1987.

The effect of the Senate amendments will be to increase the proposed size of the board of Tourism Australia from eight to 10 and to add the skill in Indigenous tourism or culture to the pool of skills required for suitable appointees to the board of Tourism Australia. This unique tourism product must be carefully nurtured and managed to ensure that both domestic and international visitors alike have an opportunity to learn about Indigenous culture in Australia. Accordingly, the government supports the Senate amendment dealing with the skills in Indigenous tourism or culture—that is, we support the amendment to clause 14(1) of the Tourism Australia Bill 2004. The government also supports the Senate amendment to clause 12(e) of the Tourism Australia Bill 2004, aimed at increasing the overall size of the Tourism Australia board by two, to a total of 10 members. These amendments will allow the board to have a broader expertise base in the areas outlined in clause 14 of the Tourism Australia Bill 2004.

I would like to acknowledge the constructive contribution of the ALP and the Australian Democrats to the Tourism Australia legislation. I would also particularly like to thank Senators Kerry O'Brien and Aden Ridgeway for facilitating the passage of the bill through the Senate. I would also like to thank the Prime Minister and his staff, and in particular Hellen Georgopoulos, my ministerial colleagues and the coalition's Friends of Tourism members for their ongoing support of the tourism industry and the white paper process, especially during the development of the legislation to establish Tourism Australia. I also commend the Australian tourism industry for its contribution to the implementation of the tourism white paper and its role in the development of a long-term, sustained and profitable growth industry.

The Tourism Australia Bill 2004 and the Tourism Australia (Repeal and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2004 signify the beginning of a new era in government-industry collaboration in tourism. The passage of these bills through the parliament will enable Tourism Australia to be established and will facilitate the implementation of the tourism white paper, which is the most far-reaching reform and resourcing package of the tourism industry ever undertaken by an Australian government.