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Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Page: 5272


Mr GRAY (BrandMinister for Small Business, Minister for Resources and Energy and Minister for Tourism) (21:36): I used to wonder what a shadow minister for tourism does. Now I know: nothing, absolutely nothing—except sleep. The previous minister for tourism, alone amongst Australian tourism ministers over the last 20 years, succeeded in unifying an industry across our states and a sophisticated industry itself, substantially 90-odd per cent of them small businesses, to grow that industry to today to be in excess of $100 billion in bed nights per year. That growth has been achieved by serious efforts for cooperation between state tourism organisations, Tourism Australia, the federal government and tourism operators. Tourism operators are, as the shadow minister would know, the most delightful, tenacious and energetic small-business people that our country has to offer. Every one of them has a vision that we would share—a vision to provide customers with the best and most enjoyable experience at the best possible price.

We as a federal government rejoice in the opportunity to give these businesses growth, but mostly we work to underpin their business opportunities by ensuring a continuous stream of customers. These days, the growth in our inbound tourism mostly happens as a consequence of insightful decisions made by the federal government to support increased numbers of tourists from our region who come to Australia to enjoy a terrific experience and who support our tourism industry because of the great qualities it offers. In the course of the last two months, I have been getting around tourism businesses, and not once have I heard a person argue for an additional grant, for more funding for this or that good idea. They just want government to support more tourists coming out to Australia—more people, more bed nights, more customers and a better business environment—and, most importantly, to do that with a great degree of certainty.

The Tourism 2020 vision is a vision that aspires to grow our tourism economy to between $120 billion and $140 billion by 2020. That growth will support jobs. Those jobs will be good jobs. Those jobs will be in kitchens, in bars. Those jobs will be in communities that are sustainable and enjoyable, and in businesses that are run by families. And those jobs will be in businesses that will be around for a long time to come.

In this budget we are providing more than $186 million for tourism. Tourism Australia alone will receive $130 million to continue to market Australia as a tourism destination to international and domestic audiences and will also provide additional marketing funding into Asia to attract the new growth stream of customers. That new growth stream comes about because of the extraordinary economic growth in our region. In this the Asian century we know that increased tourism numbers from China in particular will support a specific tourism experience that will, in and of itself, help grow the diversity of our tourism industry and, at the same time, support additional skills and businesses in the growth throughout our region.

We know that the programs we offer, which are supported by Tourism Australia and support the Tourism 2020 Vision, will grow the industry beyond it being simply a political plaything. It grows an industry to the point where its training requirements are taken seriously by the Commonwealth government and by the industry itself. Ensuring good career paths for people who work in our tourism industry is not just something we do incidentally; it is something we do to grow the quality experience in Australian tourism. I will get back to the shadow minister with answers to each question he has asked and I will do that in writing.