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Wednesday, 26 November 1986
Page: 3815

Mr TICKNER(7.42) —I would like to take just a few moments in the House tonight to raise a matter which was touched on in Question Time in an answer given by the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism (Mr John Brown) to a question which, as I recall, was asked by the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Beale). It concerned, at least in part, the lack of initiative displayed by Australian businesses in taking up the potential posed for them by the large increase in tourists coming to Australia as a result of this Government's creative and innovative policies in advertising overseas the wonderful country that we have. In doing so, I would like to refer to an article in the National Australia Bank monthly summary of November of this year which highlighted that in the first two months of this year, the latest period for which statistics are available, there was a further acceleration of tourist arrivals in Australia, and the figure is up 19 per cent on a year earlier. The tourists come from New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan. There is a tendency for tourists from overseas to spend more money, although spending patterns vary according to the country that visitors come from.

The record of the Government in promoting tourism is indeed extraordinary. Since the initial Paul Hogan advertisements were screened in the Unites States West Coast cities in 1984, there have been 834,000 inquiries at Australian Tourist Commission offices in North America and the number of visas granted increased by 40 per cent in the six months to the end of last year. The tragedy is that a recent paper produced by the Department of Sport, Recreation and Tourism contained a survey of Japanese overseas travellers which included a section on images of countries abroad. Of eleven countries considered, Australia was rated second last in terms of enjoyable shopping. It is perhaps no wonder that Japanese tourists, together with others, are voting with their feet and taking some of their money home with them. If honourable members would give some consideration to the quality of product offered to tourists as souvenirs, they would probably have a clear understanding of why this money is leaving Australia.

One of the initiatives I took in the last few weeks was to go to a number of major tourist destinations in Canberra and inspect not only the quality of the souvenirs available but also the country of origin of those Australian souvenirs which overseas visitors are being invited to purchase. If any honourable members dare to take up my challenge and go to some of the major tourist venues in Canberra, they will see that what overseas tourists are being offered are not Australian souvenirs but souvenirs from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan which all bear an Australian motif or some Australiana imprinted on them to give the impression that they are indigenous products. Quite frankly, many of our overseas tourists are being ripped off and conned by some of these attempts to sell them these souvenirs, and there are literally millions of dollars of lost opportunities that Australian souvenir manufacturers are just not taking up.

Mr Deputy Speaker, in case you think that I am just making up my very serious allegations tonight, let me demonstrate not just to you but also to the Minister for Territories (Mr Scholes), who is in the chamber, and to other members just what I mean by this rip-off that is occurring not only in Canberra but right around Australia. Among the souvenirs that I managed to purchase here in Canberra are a small wallet with `Australia' written on it and a kangaroo on it, made in Taiwan; a small notebook with `Australia' on it, made in Hong Kong; and a small pencil case, also made in Hong Kong. The list goes on-Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan. The greatest rip-off of all occurs in relation to these cuddly little souvenirs that purport to be koalas and kangaroos. They have their country of origin tag cut off in a deliberate attempt to con tourists.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Leo McLeay) —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.