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Monday, 21 June 2004
Page: 30956

Mr MELHAM (6:08 PM) —I rise to speak briefly on the Tourism Australia Bill 2004 and the Tourism Australia (Repeal and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2004. As I remarked when the Tourism Australia Bill 2004 was originally tabled, it is largely the result of the new-found professionalism of the tourism industry's advocacy bodies. They are to be congratulated on their input into the tourism white paper and these bills. I say that these bills and the white paper are largely the result of the industry's input for we know well that elements of the package have been designed by the government for the benefit of the government rather than the industry.

As part of our diligent consideration of legislation, Labor initiated an inquiry by the Senate Economics Legislation Committee into the provisions of the Tourism Australia Bill. The outcome of the inquiry was that Labor undertook to move a number of amendments if needed and determined to move another. At the time of the hearing, there was great concern amongst the staff of the Bureau of Tourism Research and the Tourism Forecasting Council that they would be severely disadvantaged by the move from the public sector to the new statutory authority, Tourism Australia. Labor undertook that, if required, we would move an amendment to protect those staff. I am, however, happy to report that, under pressure from Labor and the CPSU, the government has now provided transfer and working conditions suitable to affected staff and, as such, that amendment is no longer required. I congratulate the CPSU and Labor shadow minister for tourism, Senator O'Brien, for the fine job they have done in looking after the interests of these staff.

Also as part of Labor's diligent consideration of these bills, we took on board concerns from the South Australian government regarding the reappointment of board members together with ensuring the regard Tourism Australia must have for state and territory marketing plans and activities. After discussions between Labor's Senator O'Brien, Minister Lomax-Smith and the office of the federal minister, Labor has been satisfied that these amendments are no longer required.

The Tourism Australia Bill as originally drafted made no provision for Indigenous tourism to be represented on the board of Tourism Australia. The development of the Indigenous tourism industry will encourage greater awareness and understanding of Australia's unique and enduring Indigenous culture and permit Indigenous communities to enjoy greater economic independence. Therefore, Labor formed the view that such an omission from the bills and the board was untenable.

After extensive negotiation with Indigenous tourism leaders, Minister Hockey's office and the Australian Democrats, I am pleased to say that Labor's amendment to rectify this situation has been accepted by the government in the Senate. Labor's amendment provides the Minister for Small Business and Tourism with the capacity to appoint members to the Tourism Australia board based on their Indigenous tourism or cultural knowledge experience. Labor's amendment will help to ensure that the entire tourism industry benefits from the activities of an organisation whose leaders possess the right mix of skills and experience, including knowledge of Indigenous tourism or culture. These are better bills on account of Labor's amendment and I think that, as such, Tourism Australia will be an organisation better able to serve the entire Australian tourism industry. I commend Labor's amendment to the House.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. D.G.H. Adams)—The question is that the amendments be agreed to.

Question agreed to.