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Thursday, 7 May 1987
Page: 2812

Mr JOHN BROWN (Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism) —by leave-I rise today to make a ministerial statement on a matter of major importance not only to members in this Parliament but to all Australians who have an interest in the future of their country. I refer, of course, to the tourism industry. I guess in some ways this statement is an analysis of the Hawke Government's five-year stewardship of this industry.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of tourism to the national economy. This year alone tourism will contribute $24,000m to our gross domestic product, making it our largest industry in turnover terms. Tourism will also contribute almost $3,000m in foreign currency income to Australia. The tourism industry is now growing at a spectacular rate and currently employs more than 405,000 Australians in a huge variety of occupations scattered over the whole continent. This, of course, makes it the largest individual employer in the nation.

However, this bright picture of tourism is in stark contrast to the dismal shambles we inherited when coming to office in March 1983. For the whole of the Fraser Administration, tourism had been neglected and the industry was expected to struggle along by itself. The Department of Tourism, having been set up by Frank Stewart in the Whitlam Government from 1972 to 1975, had been dismantled and tourism was conducted in the Fraser years by a handful of people working virtually out of a cupboard in the Department of Industry and Commerce. Thus the incredible potential that Australia had in tourism was neglected. In my three years as a shadow Minister in the Labor Opposition prior to coming into office in 1983 I realised the extraordinary potential that Australia had in the tourism industry and set about producing a document `The Future of Tourism in Australia' which eventually became the Labor policy for tourism for the 1983 election.

This paper set out a series of moves dedicated to turning what was then a fragmented enterprise into a major integrated industry. In hindsight the decisions that we took in opposition were correct, because what has happened since we implemented this blueprint for the industry is that tourism is now the biggest industry in Australia. Not only has the Commonwealth Government become active in the promotion of tourism but the State governments, which were as moribund as the Federal Government in that period prior to 1983, have now also become very actively involved as well. The document that we put together pointed to four main areas that needed attention if Australia were to become a tourism force. They were: Firstly, promotion; secondly, incentives for development; thirdly, incentives for overseas investment; and, fourthly, staff training. There were other related changes which were also included in that document, all of which have been implemented and all of which have become integral parts of the sophistication of this hugely successful industry.

I would like to draw the attention of the House to the moves we made in these four main areas and how these threads, having been drawn together, gave this industry the opportunity to develop into the major concern it has now become. First of all, I refer to promotion. The Australian Tourist Commission formed in the late 1960s had achieved real recognition in the time of the Whitlam Government. However, under the Fraser Government it was almost wiped out, having been denied funding, staff and resources. The need to promote Australia overseas is of course fairly obvious. Australia was the best kept secret in the world and, with all we had to offer, we really needed to promote Australia as a holiday destination.

Funds for the Australian Tourist Commission under this Hawke Government have been trebled from $10m to $30m and of course this enabled us, among other things, to fund the very successful Paul Hogan series of commercials which have revolutionised the promotion of Australia overseas, particularly in the United States of America. Prior to 1983 the number of international tourists visiting Australia was 950,000 per year, with 1.4 million Australians travelling overseas every year for holidays. In 1987 we will have 1.7 million visitors to Australia-almost double the figure for 1983-and, in 1988, 2.2 million, which is a huge increase over that 1983 figure. Replacing the old kangaroo-koala duumvirate with a new human face for Australia has obviously been a master stroke. On the reverse side of the coin more Australians than ever are choosing to stay at home for their holidays.

The second point that we wanted to look at was the building of a decent infrastructure for tourism. With improved promotion obviously succeeding, the need for the building of infrastructure was fairly obvious. In the Budget of 1983, the Hawke Government decided to increase the depreciation rate on buildings for the tourist industry from 2 1/2 to 4 per cent. The stimulative effect of this initiative is now very clear. The face of tourism infrastructure in Australia has been revolutionised in those four years from 1983 to 1987. One has to look only at cities like Sydney or Melbourne, or particularly the tourism areas of Queensland from the Gold Coast north, to see exactly what effect this has had. At the present time we have almost $8,000m worth of infrastructure being built for the tourism industry in Australia.

These changes mean that we can now bring international tourists to Australia, confident that the infrastructure they will find in terms of hotels, motels, resorts and restaurants is the envy of the world and of course this has had a marked effect on encouraging Australians to holiday at home. They no longer have to travel to Fiji, Hawaii, Bali or other places off-shore in order to find the splendid array of facilities that are now here on their own shores. I guess it is fair to have to point out some of those buildings that we have in Australia in that period. We now have the Regent of Sydney, which is the No. 11 hotel in the world on every credible list. Before 1983 it would have been impossible to suggest that Australia could produce a hotel in the first 100. Melbourne now has the Hyatt on Collins which has become the flag hotel for the Hyatt group around the world. These great successes are being repeated all over Australia.

The third area that we needed to look at was overseas investment. Prior to 1983 there were very strong disincentives for overseas investment in Australia, but this Government has eased the guidelines and now we are allowing foreign investment in Australia to 100 per cent equity in the provision of tourism infrastructure. The effect of this has been quite miraculous, with particularly the Japanese being heavily involved in investment in tourism. The benefit of having the Japanese of course is that once they build facilities here they spend a great deal of their own time and energy in promoting these facilities in Japan and attracting Japanese to come here and use them. In the last month or so about $500m has been invested by Japanese investors in the Gold Coast alone. I hope that this trend continues.

On the fourth issue, of course, it was useless developing a tourism industry of some size in Australia unless we could staff the facilities. Prior to 1983 it was very difficult to convince bright young Australians who had completed their schooling that tourism was a proper career path for them. There was a mistaken belief that to be in the service industry in Australia one had to be at least obsequious and probably servile. I am pleased to note that these attitudes have changed dramatically and now we have in Australia a marvellous reservoir of well trained, well equipped young Australians entering this glamorous industry. Education authorities all around Australia have responded to the change and we now have emerging a splendid array of hospitality schools in the colleges of technical and further education, the colleges of advanced education, the universities, and even in the schools where young people now have an opportunity to be trained to the highest level for the very skilled and glamorous jobs that exist in this industry.

So those four main areas-promotion, incentive for development, incentive for overseas investment and training-have all been put into place. The success that we are now having with tourism in Australia at the minute is not necessarily the result of a decreased value of the dollar or the success of the Paul Hogan campaign, although one should not dismiss either of those factors. The product we are selling has not altered dramatically since 1983. The beaches are no more beautiful now than they were. The wonderful climate is the same. The blue skies are the same. The free and easy lifestyle is the same. The friendliness of Australians is still the same. But what has happened is that this industry is at long last recognised for what it is-a great contributor to the Australian economy as a result of government leadership and legislative action.

To examine our commitments and achievements in detail it is necessary to look firstly at the changes that have occurred since March 1983. A number of important measures have taken place in line with our promotional commitments. The first of these was to increase the budget for the Australian Tourist Commission by 200 per cent. This was a major step in inspiring confidence in the minds of investors and developers and also led to the phenomenally successful Paul Hogan television commercials which I mentioned earlier. I think it is fair to say that Paul Hogan has made Australia the flavour of the decade in the United States. Now Crocodile Dundee has reinforced this image right around the world. Australia now has an international profile that we could not have dreamed of prior to 1983. The Hogan campaigns, scoffed at by allegedly sophisticated critics at their inception, are now universally recognised as the most successful tourism marketing exercise the world has seen. They have been so successful, in fact, that Australia's position, in terms of priority for American international travellers, has improved from forty-ninth out of 100 countries in 1983 to first in 1987. I think that is a fairly decent testimony to the capacity of Paul Hogan as our super-salesman.

The Government also introduced the tourism overseas promotion scheme, known as TOPS, to assist the industry in its international product marketing efforts. This has encouraged private operators to build on the great promotional efforts of the ATC, with financial rebates for advertising and other marketing expenses incurred overseas promoting the Australian product. As a further innovative step, I introduced an annual program for national tourism awards. These awards encourage excellence within the industry and also make a major contribution to heightening public awareness of the importance of tourism as a whole. This year the awards will be held in Perth in September. I can assure you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and all honourable members that the tourism industry in Australia now looks upon these awards as something well worth winning. They have become very prestigious.

A number of subsidiary measures were also introduced. For example, the sales tax on certain cruise vessels was removed-back-dated to the implementation date of August 1981-to provide a boost to the tourism and boat building industries. Those Queensland members of the National Party of Australia I see sitting over the other side of the chamber will be more than delighted that this Government sought to remove that silly sales tax that was imposed on the building of tourist vessels. I well recall going up to Brisbane a few days after that announcement and speaking at the shipyards in Brisbane in the electorate of Griffith. Thompson Bros, Millkraft Boat Yards Pty Ltd and Lloyd Ships Holdings Pty Ltd were all in terrible despair. Twelve months earlier Thompson Bros staff had been reduced from 32 to three. The boat building industry had come to a halt. In 1984, when we took that silly sales tax off and made its removal retrospective by back-dating it to the date of its implementation, I had the great pleasure of travelling Australia giving cheques back to people who had built boats or had boats being built at the time of the implementation of that tax.

I am pleased to report that now the Australian boat building industry is undergoing an extraordinary improvement. A number of magnificent tourist boats are being built here in Australia by Australian tradesmen. I mention particularly the Sun Goddess, the boat that Ansett uses to transport travellers from Hamilton Island to Hayman Island, as a perfect example. I cannot remember how many boats I have launched in the last couple of years. There was one particularly recently which I launched on the Gippsland Lakes. It was built in a little place called Metung. It was a marvellous example of the Australian tradesman's art. That has happened only because we took off that silly sales tax. Of course, it is difficult to have a tourism industry in a country such as Australia unless we have the capacity to build tourist boats here.

We provided a special subsidy towards the cost of diesel fuel used for power generation by off-shore tourist resorts within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park region. We have approved some international charter flights where it has been shown that they will promote a genuinely new market. I only wish that we would get more applications from all those people who talk about charter flights but never apply. We have agreed to a program for the accelerated development of visitor facilities and infrastructure in Kakadu National Park and, as a part of the management objective for the Uluru National Park, we helped to facilitate the development of the Yulara tourist resort on the perimeter of the park. The Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment (Mr Cohen) must take great credit for the co-operation he has given my Department-and the Tasmanian Government, too, I might add-in the provision of tourism facilities in the very fragile south Tasmanian wilderness area. Since the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Millar) is in the chamber, I say that I am sure he is delighted with the progress that the Commonwealth and State governments have made in implementing the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. I think it is fair to say that the improvements in the infrastructure for the Barrier Reef-now we will be having fixed hotels on the Barrier Reef-are full measure of the appreciation that world travellers and Australians have about the magnificent resource that lies off the coast of Queensland, the 3,000 miles of the Great Barrier Reef.

Against every advice that it could not happen, we have managed to talk the two main domestic airlines into implementing lower tourist air fares. It is a pity that they keep these tourist air fares such a secret. Most Australians do not realise that they can go to Australian Airlines or Ansett Airlines and demand a tourist airfare. It is not stand-by, it is not shoulder, it is not Apex-it is none of the euphemisms that are usually applied to cheap fares. One can go to any tourist office and apply for a tourist airfare. One must travel for 10 days, but as long as one is spending four days outside a capital city one can obtain a ticket that will give one five stops. For $500 one can travel 6,000 kilometres, which is 8c a kilometre. For $800 one can travel 10,000 kilometres. One can skirt Australia for $800. For example, a tourist-not necessarily an international tourist but also an Australian tourist-can buy a ticket in Sydney for $500 and go to Brisbane, Cairns, Alice Springs and Sydney. As long as that person takes 10 days it is a perfectly legitimate travelling operation. It seems to me to be a pity that travel agents do not want to push this fare option and the airlines seem to be fairly reluctant to advertise it in Australia-although they do advertise it fairly well overseas.

Mr Peter Fisher —Make them.

Mr JOHN BROWN —I would like to know how to make them. We have also provided $26m for the purchase and modification of a replacement Bass Strait ferry of doubled capacity and for associated terminal upgradings. This has had a quite stimulating effect on tourism in that beautiful State of Tasmania. The Australian land transport program was introduced on 1 July 1985, providing to date almost $1.5 billion for the construction and maintenance of roads. Included in that amount, of course, was mainline railway upgrading and road safety and research.

There seems to be a feeling abroad that international tourism is the only thing that we should be pushing. It seems to be forgotten that 85 per cent of the tourism industry in Australia is generated within Australia. Eighty per cent of that tourism is undertaken by Australians in their motor cars or on buses. Every week when I travel to Canberra down the new freeway from Sydney I think of the enormous potential that this city has for tourism. There is no question that Canberra is now the most beautiful of all the national capitals. It is probably one of the youngest, but I think every Australian should be proud of this national capital, which has been built up by a variety of governments of a variety of political colours. The opening of that freeway from Sydney to Canberra, together with the opening of the new Parliament House next year, will give this place, to my way of thinking, the title of the best tourism resource in Australia. I hope that every Australian who finds it possible will visit this city and be in wonder, as I am, at the beauty of the national capital. The freeway also gives those lovely towns on the Southern Highlands of New South Wales-Berrima, Mittagong, Bundanoon and Moss Vale-an opportunity to present themselves as a real tourism resource.

One of the things that we managed to do, of which I am very proud, was to organise the States to introduce standard registration of travel agents. For too long in Australia we have had the odd and sad spectacle of travel agents crashing, taking with them the heard-earned savings of people who were buying a holiday. It has been very difficult in Australia to get the States to co-operate on standard law. This has been the first breakthrough. All the State governments, with the exception, I might add, of those of the Northern Territory and Queensland-I wonder why it is those two-have now agreed to introduce standard legislation to cover the registration and bonding of travel agents. I hope that the talks that are taking place at the moment will convince Queensland-the biggest tourism State-to join all the other States, including Tasmania, in this very admirable piece of legislation to protect Australian travellers.

We have also managed to organise with the Department of Aviation and the airlines duty free shopping for returning passengers. Qantas complained for many years that it cost it millions of dollars a year to fly in about 50 dozen bottles of spirits free on every flight. This was purchased in Fiji, Singapore or somewhere along the line. Australians now have the option of making their duty free purchases-that is, liquor, tobacco and perfumes-when they get off the plane in Sydney at the airport on the way to the immigration desk. It is a great breakthrough and it has been extraordinarily successful. Qantas is delighted-and so are the other international airlines-that it is not now carrying all this free freight because, among other things, spirits are flammable. Also, we have had the odd spectacle of some people who have managed to drink too much on the plane being refused service and then opening their own duty free bottles which they had under the seat. All of those problems have now been corrected. It is now possible to buy duty free goods when one gets off the plane.

In the area of training this Government has addressed the long term needs of the industry. Without trained staff, the viability of tourism as a major earner for foreign exchange would be jeopardised. We need to have in this country a system whereby young people can look forward to rewarding careers in the tourism industry. Accordingly, we have commissioned and now released for public discussion the Sprokkreeff report. This most valuable document clearly identifies the problem areas in tourism training needs and makes constructive suggestions as to how we should go about remedying these deficiencies. This report is also being considered by my colleague the Minister for Education (Senator Ryan). Even without the benefit of the Sprokkreeff report there has been a huge upsurge in the number of jobs available to young Australians who are looking for a career in the tourism industry. Between now-7 May 1987-and the end of 1988, it is very likely that 70,000 new jobs will be created in the tourism industry, and this will provide a great opportunity for young Australians.

In the short term the Government has actively used the community employment program, administered by my colleague the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Willis), to boost tourism projects and also to increase job opportunities in this most rewarding area. Until 1983 the development of hotels, resorts and casinos was haphazard and occurred in a climate of government disinterest. The turnaround since that time has been truly remarkable. This Government, for the past four years, has done everything in its power to foster and to encourage the development of tourism across the entire nation. Rather than rest on our laurels, as outstanding as they may be, we have embarked on a marketing strategy to expand the variety of experience holidays available in Australia. Sport, culture, farm, excitement, heritage and wilderness are just some of the headings that spring to mind.

Our vision for the future includes an awareness program highlighting our museums, wonderful national parks, art galleries, theatres and a vast variety of extremely high quality resorts with a uniquely Australian flavour. I point with some pride to the new Australian Airlines Wilderness Lodge which is right on the tip of Cape York where one can sit and dangle one foot in the Indian Ocean and one in the Coral Sea.

Mr Lloyd —And watch out for crocodiles.

Mr JOHN BROWN —And watch out for crocodiles that is right. Every week I hear of more new and exciting proposals that are about to get under way that will offer visitors to Australia holidays far more luxurious and exciting than they can get anywhere else in the world. This is obviously the way forward for this country. What we will seek to do in an environmentally sensitive way is to give international visitors and our domestic tourists greater access to the beautiful and remote parts of this continent. Our aim is to provide facilities that will give people access to these areas but we will do so in a way which will not harm the sometimes fragile environment or detract from it in any way. We have learned well that tourism and environmental protection can be harmonised with sensitive development. I suppose the best example of this is the Tasmanian wilderness area but I also believe there is a great opportunity in Australia, particularly in Queensland, to exploit the wonderful resource of the tropical rainforests. Anyone who has not taken a walk in a rainforest, particularly at night, has missed one of the great experiences of life.

We are also examining the requirements for visa entry to Australia and it is my personal hope that we will be able to ease the current restrictions particularly with regard to some of the countries that are anxious to have free entry to Australia. However, I must emphasise that one of the great attractions of Australia is our peace and harmony, the fact that we are free of terrorist attacks and that we are free of any civil insurrection. Some countries in Europe that have allowed visa free entry to visitors for a long time are now looking at reinstalling the visa system to protect themselves from vagabond terrorists who seem to want to cause countries problems.

While the Government can look at its record with pride, the Opposition must be truly embarrassed by the total absence of policy development which has occurred during the past four years. All that the Opposition can offer the industry is a demand for greater private sector investment. I cannot blame it for that-I am in favour of it as well but in isolation it is not much use. It would appear from this that the Opposition has learnt nothing from the Government's highly successful multilayered approach to the development of the industry. A continuing narrow-minded theme in the Opposition's statement on tourism is an attack on industrial relations. It is worth putting on public record the fact that in the last four years there has not been a single strike within the tourist industry although some industrial problems in the airline industry have, at times, indirectly hurt the trade.

Furthermore, the bogy of penalty rates-I may say more about that matter in a moment-has not stopped the upsurge in tourism development and it is acknowledged that the quality and costs of services in Australia compare favourably with those in most other countries. Despite what appear to be generous hourly rates of pay many tourists are delighted to return to Australia because we do not have the insidious system of obligatory tipping. That is not to say that industrial relations are perfect. I noted the comments that the shadow Minister, the honourable member for Flinders (Mr Reith), made in the grievance debate. I am on record as saying that there are some areas of the tourist industry in which penalty rates are far too high. I believe that to be the case but it has not been a disincentive for international hotel chains to come to Australia. Every hotel chain of any note is now represented in Australia, and they are coming here in increasing numbers. In the club industry, some restaurants and dining rooms there is a need for more co-operation between the tourism industry and the related unions.

A committee has been set up on the Tourist Advisory Council headed by Mr John Haddad, the Chairman of the Australian Tourist Commission, and including, among others, Keith Williams, the proprietor of Hamilton Island, which is negotiating with the unions about a better regime for industrial relations in those particular areas.

Mr Cowan —I hope you're successful, John.

Mr JOHN BROWN —Most of the predictions I make work out. I knew that the honourable member would be a very good member, and I was right. I have said on several occasions that Australia is now the tourism success story of the Western world. The most recent report of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development confirms this view. Released in Paris on 9 March, this report states that Australia has recorded easily the world's strongest growth in international visitor numbers for 1985-86. They are up 23 per cent against an OECD average of a mere one per cent. While most other industrialised countries have remained stagnant Australia is surging ahead, and the best is yet to come. Interestingly, according to the OECD figures, the next most successful country after Australia is Canada. The OECD report indicates that the staging of Expo 86 in Vancouver played a major part in boosting visitor numbers to that country. This is very welcome news for Australia, particularly for Brisbane, because Expo 88 will be a major international drawcard, along with many other facets of our bicentennial celebrations. I share with the honourable member for Wide Bay among others the hope that all of the States will come to their senses and decide that they should also be represented at the Expo in Brisbane. If they do not they will be the losers-no one else.

All of the statistics indicate that tourism will continue to grow and benefit the whole economy. Many honourable members might not be aware of the number of overseas visitor arrivals. Before the Hawke Government came to power Australia had never welcomed one million visitors during a calendar year but thanks to the policies of this Government growth has been spectacular. In 1983 there were 950,000 visitors; in 1984, 1,015,000 visitors; and in 1985, 1,143,000, an increase of 12.6 per cent; in 1986, 1,418,000 visitors, an improvement of 24.1 per cent; and the estimated figure for 1987 is almost 1.7 million visitors, an improvement of something like 17 per cent. I am very confident that we will easily eclipse our target of two million visitors next year. It is estimated that each adult visitor spends on average $1,440 in Australia. This means that in the current year overseas tourists will spend over $2.3 billion while they are here. This estimate excludes the earnings of Qantas Airways Ltd and expenditure of foreign airlines which will amount to a further $1.2 billion. In 1983 the turnover for tourism in Australia was $7 billion. In 1987 the estimated turnover for tourism in Australia will be of the order of $25,000m, making it easily our biggest industry. New Zealand remains our largest market, with 24 per cent of total short term visitors, followed by the United States of America with 18 per cent, the United Kingdom with 12 per cent and Japan with 11 per cent. However, the Japanese market is growing so quickly that it will very soon be in third place.

As impressive as these figures are, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that 85 per cent of the industry is composed of domestic travel and holidays-that is, Australians deciding to take their holidays in their own country. How pleasing it is to find that Australians are now doing this in increasing numbers. This part of tourism has also grown under this Government at about 3 per cent per annum. Australians travelling within Australia will spend over 250 million nights away from home in 1986-87, involving a total expenditure of about $15 billion. A further 100 million day trips will account for an extra $3.4 billion of domestic tourism expenditure. But if one takes the figure for the calendar year 1987 instead of for the financial year 1986-87, one will find that my aggregate of $25 billion will be exceeded.

As well as assisting our balance of payments, the tourism industry has also given a major boost to employment. The Hawke Government is immensely proud of having created three-quarters of a million jobs since 1983. Some 70,000 of these have been in the tourism industry-a huge contribution. As more overseas visitors come here, and as more Australians holiday in their own country, so more jobs are created. There is a misconception, however, that tourism will lead Australia towards an army of unskilled and semi-skilled people, with no future prospects. The truth of the matter is that tourism is providing real career paths for young school leavers who are voting with their feet into the industry. There is also a growing awareness and understanding that work and career in service industries ought not to be regarded as servile in nature.

Let me give an example. The Ryde College School of Catering in Sydney reported a `football grand final' scramble for places in management courses for the hotel and tourist industries in January this year. People had started camping out the night before enrolments began; and while 400 young people were admitted to courses, another 800 were turned away. Similarly, the William Angliss College in Melbourne had more than 500 applicants for its diploma of hospitality and catering, but only 96 students, unfortunately could be accommodated. The picture is similar all over Australia. Young people have recognised the wide scope for a long term career in tourism, and are prepared to train for three to four years to seek positions in hotel and catering management, travel agencies, theme park management, and the airline industry, to name just a few of the avenues opening up to them.

As I mentioned earlier, a report has now been completed into staff training needs within the industry. Undertaken by Mr Willem Sprokkreeff, the Vice-President for Australia and South Pacific of Hilton International, this report contains extremely valuable recommendations on how best to respond to these demands for trained staff by the burgeoning industry. With international visitor arrivals increasing at around 20 per cent annually, and major investment in new world class establishments, attention is focusing on the industry's ability to cope. This growth rate means that each year up to 10,000 new jobs will be created from international tourism alone. As a nation we need to meet this challenge, to keep apace with the promotional activities being undertaken by other countries to capture the leisure and tourist dollar. The work of the Sprokkreeff Committee will help the Government and industry do just that.

I should add that the problems associated with tourism tend to be ones of too much success rather than too little. I tell the House that we are the only country in the world that has this problem. Examples include too many passengers arriving early in the morning at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport, the design and outlay of our baggage collection and Customs areas, too many people seeking accommodation, and an excess of organisations wanting to hold conventions in Australia. I can add other deficiencies, such as a shortage of staff who speak Japanese, and a shortage of signs in the same language. These are all difficulties which the Government is working to overcome.

Tourism's ascendancy has been obvious in many subtle and not so subtle ways. For example, I am reminded of early attempts by the media to denigrate the value of tourism by relegating tourism stories to the social pages or in flashy advertising supplements. So, it is also immensely satisfying to see the beginnings of a media debate on the subject. Are we doing enough for tourism? How can we provide incentives for tourism development? How can we best marry the needs and wants of environmental groups and tourism investors? There is now a clear recognition that tourism is this country's major industry. It is, as well, the fastest growing, and the more sophisticated media attention it now gets reflects this. Even political and economics writers are reporting on tourism related subjects. Hallelujah! It is a far cry indeed from longstanding media indifference and the `She'll be right mate' attitude that unfortunately afflicted the industry and its commentators for so many years.

Analysis of data provided to my Department by Cordell Building Publications indicates that nearly $2 billion worth of tourism projects were commenced in the period April 1984 to September 1986. These constructions alone will provide around 12,000 part and full time jobs when completed, and 54,000 man years of work during the construction phase. In addition, there are $6 billion worth of tourism projects in varying stages of planning, with the potential to generate a further 40,000 part and full time jobs once operational, and some 130,000 man years of construction work. Tourism is bricks and mortar, small business, electricity and power generation. Tourism relies on an enormous range of feeder industries and it is this multiplier effect that gives tourism a special place in well balanced economic planning. Tourism represents a real future. We are not waiting for major structural adjustments to the economy; we are creating them.

I am not here to state that it is this Government alone which has been responsible for the rise in tourism; far from it. I pay tribute to my State colleagues and their tourism authorities, whose professionalism has done much to increase tourism to their regions. However, it is the private sector which has really taken up the tourism challenge. This has happened quite effectively in a climate created by the Hawke Government. The industry can be justifiably proud of its achievements, without handouts, protection or over-regulation. I have said it publicly before, and I will say it again now: While I am the Minister with responsibility for tourism, the Australian Tourist Commission will continue to be what it is-a body set up to help the promotion of tourism in Australia. It will never become a competitor for private enterprise in terms of tourism development or even as a ticket selling agency. It does its best work in its present role. The huge tourism industry has been built up by competent, generous and very courageous investors from the private industry, who have created this magnificent industry for Australia. As far I am concerned, the Australian Tourist Commission is there to help them, not compete with them.

Every overseas tourist who has spent a dollar here has assisted this country in reducing our foreign indebtedness. Also, all Australians who have decided to take advantage of the development of our tourism industry-the better roads, better flight facilities, better developed hotels and motels-are also assisting the maintenance of a strong Australian economy. More importantly, I believe the findings of the Australian Government Inquiry into Tourism-the Kennedy report-will become the blueprint for the future direction of Australian tourism. The inquiry, which I commissioned in January last year, has produced a wide ranging report over the full gamut of issues which will affect Australia's tourism competitiveness in the years to come. I give credit to Mr Jim Kennedy, a very distinguished Queenslander, the proprietor of Daydream Island, for the extraordinarily good work he did in chairing this Committee.

As a result of all the factors I have outlined, I believe that the Hawke Government has set the stage so that Australia can truly aspire to be the tourism capital of the world. Certainly the pre-conditions are there-friendly people, a stable government, a great climate, wonderful scenery, and world class accommodation and catering. No other country can compete with us. We are now taking ourselves and the industry seriously. We could probably sit back and cheer ourselves for our success. But what of the future? I think it is fair to say that the potential was always there. It was a pity that for many years of conservative rule in this country the potential of tourism was not recognised. We had a diamond mine and no shovel. The fact that this Government undertook the leadership and the integration of this industry has had great effects for all Australians, particularly for the great tribe of Australian kids who now have jobs.

The future is a glowing one. In the next week I will be producing a booklet which will indicate, on quite sophisticated prognostications, that by the year 2000 we will have five million visitors to Australia, which is a huge increase on the less than one million we had in 1983. That figure is calculated on a fairly conservative growth factor of only 10 per cent from 1990 onwards, when growth is now at a rate of 23 to 40 per cent. So it is very likely that we will become one of the great tourism successes of the world. And why should we not? No other country in the world can offer visitors the pleasures that this beautiful, bountiful country can. One has only to look at Sydney. I spent a few hours there last Friday, announcing a new hotel to be built by the Beaufort chain on Circular Quay. I wandered from the Opera House to the redeveloped Circular Quay, past Circular Quay West and Walsh Bay to Darling Harbour. If every there was a magnificent modern city, it is Sydney, and it is not alone in that respect. There are an enormous number of attractions of every diversity all over Australia from the Great Barrier Reef to the snowfields. Tourism in Australia has an absolutely unlimited future. The ball is in our court. All we have to do is give it a decent kick.