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Thursday, 22 March 2012
Page: 2662

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (18:11): The Tourism Australia report for 2010-11 is an interesting document. I thank Tourism Australia for attending Parliament House just this morning and for conducting a forum to explain their promotion of tourism in Australia and to indicate Tourism Australia's enthusiasm for promoting all the good things that there are in Australia. I thank them for coming along. I did raise the question in question time of just what this quite elaborate promotion was actually achieving in numbers, and it was suggested to me that it is being successful, although in raw numbers that is hard to gauge. I did indicate in my question that tourism areas in my state of Queensland that I am familiar with—the Gold Coast, the Whitsundays and Cairns—are doing it fairly tough insofar as the tourism industry is concerned. I know that there have been concerns raised amongst small and medium tourism operators in Cairns about the effectiveness of campaigns run by Tourism Australia.

My concern in my home state of Queensland is for the lack of support that the state government has given to the tourism industry, in particular in the Whitsundays and Cairns, which are struggling. We have seen nothing from Ms Bligh, the current Queensland Premier, and her Labor government in relation to the difficulties that are being faced by small business operators. All of the tourism industry will tell you that the inflexibility in labour relationships and working conditions these days is a major difficulty for small business operators, particularly in the tourism industry, which requires very extensive flexibility. I was delighted that Mr Campbell Newman, the leader of the Liberal National Party in Queensland—and, hopefully, from my point of view, the Premier of Queensland after this Saturday—made a commitment in Cairns to dredging the Cairns harbour to allow into that city the very big cruise liners that currently are denied passage into Cairns because the harbour is not capable of taking those big ships of 60,000, 70,000, 80,000, 90,000, 100,000 tonnes and beyond. The Cairns port does need dredging. Those ships that come to Cairns now have to park up the coast a bit, and that means tourists from the ships have to be ferried into the shore. They then do not have enough time to get into the city of Cairns, nor do they have the time to go on the tours. It would certainly help the tourism industry and the tourism operators if they were able to do that.

Campbell Newman has done a magnificent thing in making this commitment to dredge the harbour. People have been calling for that for years and years, but it has been ignored not only by the state government but also by the local representatives of the Cairns area in the state parliament. Until next Saturday they have all been Labor, unfortunately. Those local state MPs have done nothing for and have shown no interest in the tourism industry in Cairns. Hopefully, after Saturday, Cairns will have decent representation in a new LNP government which will be able to give a real boost to the tourism industry in Cairns. As I said, and I repeat, I am particularly grateful to Campbell Newman for making this commitment which will allow the big liners to get into Cairns and allow the wealth that comes off those ships. Three or four thousand people on board coming into Cairns will give Cairns a much needed boosted—a boost that should have been promoted by the state members in the past but which I am confident after Saturday will be promoted by the new state members in those areas.