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Thursday, 14 May 1987
Page: 3215


Mr SCHOLES (Minister for Territories) —For the information of honourable members, I present the Government's response to the inquiry into the hospitality industry by the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory. I seek leave to have the response and recommendations incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The response and recommendations read as follows-

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO THE INQUIRY INTO THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY

For the information of Honourable Members, I report on the action taken by the Government to implement the recommendations arising from the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory Inquiry into the ACT Hospitality Industry.

The Committee was asked to inquire into the ACT hospitality industry because of its importance to the development of the local economy, and to identify problems affecting that development.

The ACT economy is heavily reliant upon the public sector. The private sector is almost entirely dependent upon government expenditure and the demands for goods and services from the local community. It is therefore vulnerable to changes in the local level of economic activity. Development of the tourism and hospitality industry will provide an important diversification of the local economic base. This is particularly important as the local economy feels the effect of a slowdown in construction activities in 1988/89 and beyond.

The Committee's terms of reference were to inquire into and report on the state of the hospitality industry, its capacity to meet demand, prospects for its future, and the desirability and extent of government regulation of and involvement in the industry. Particular emphasis was placed on employment awards and practices, training arrangements, the health of the industry, and measures that would enhance the growth of the industry in Canberra.

The inquiry received strong industry support. The Committee received thirteen submissions from hospitality industry organisations, government departments, unions and other agencies. Forty-one witnesses appeared at three public hearings.

In preparing the Government's response, wide consultation was undertaken between interested Departments and agencies and the unions.

The Government has already taken action on a number of major recommendations, and these are described in detail in the attached Report.

The establishment of the new Canberra Development Board recommended by the Committee was announced in April 1987. The Board will provide a strong forum to address not only hospitality industry issues but also broader economic development issues in the ACT. It subsumes the functions of the Canberra Tourist Bureau and the former Canberra Development Board. The Board will be provided with support services from the Department of Territories and is in a form which will enable it to act quickly and more flexibly in response to economic and industry circumstances. A National Institutions Program for the promotion of Canberra during 1988 will be developed before the end of 1987 under the guidance of a high-level Industry-Government committee.

A Strategic Development Plan for the ACT is under preparation by the Canberra Development Board. The National Capital Development Commission has commenced preparation of a tourism plan as input into this broader strategy plan.

The Government has also taken action on recommendations relating to employment and vocational training programs. I have asked my colleagues the Ministers for Education and Employment and Industrial Relations to accord a very high priority to those recommendations involving their portfolios.

A number of programs addressing the needs of particular groups in the ACT, such as young people and the long-term unemployed, have been established by the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. Work placements in the hospitality industry will be the highest priority for the disbursement of funds under the Adult Training Program in the ACT during 1987.

A model for group apprenticeship courses has been developed by the ACT Tourism Training Committee which will be implemented with industry support. Similarly, a program for pre-employment courses has been developed, and funding of industry-initiated courses is available from the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations. The possibility of developing a short course for restaurateurs is being addressed by the Minister for Education through the Office of ACT Further Education.

The Industry Training Committee is adapting a New South Wales course model and my Department is assisting through the ACT Small Business Bureau. This Government supports the development of incentives to encourage employers to employ and train juniors, but in respect of Recommendation 20 (in relation to the waiving of payroll tax), believes that avenues other than payroll tax exemption for juniors should also be explored. The Government is reluctant to support a recommendation which would confer upon the ACT a taxation advantage not enjoyed elsewhere.

Other industry reforms suggested by the Committee are commended.

This Government regards the diversification of the ACT employment base as an important objective for the economic future of the Territory. The hospitality industry presents significant and positive development options for the ACT.

The timely Report of the Joint Committee highlights issues of major concern within the industry and its recommendations represent a major step towards the recognition of the industry's employment potential. This Government is committed to the enhancement of career prospects for young people and the long-term unemployed, and the Committee's recommendations relating to vocational training for these groups are particularly encouraging.

I am heartened by the action already in hand to implement the recommendations. In particular, the establishment of the Canberra Development Board will ensure that the needs of the industry are addressed in a systematic and comprehensive manner. I am confident that a co-ordinated approach to hospitality issues will facilitate a significant contribution to the ACT economy.

I commend this paper to honourable members, and hereby table the attached report on the implementation status of the Joint Committee's recommendations.

INQUIRY INTO THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY IMPLEMENTATION STATUS OF JPC RECOMMENDATIONS

Following is a detailed accounting of the implementation status of each of the Committee's twenty-two applications:

Recommendation 1

The Committee recommends that the Federal Government recognise the importance of Canberra as the National Capital and that with the opening of the new Parliament House as part of the Bicentennial celebrations take responsibility for developing early marketing strategies to promote Canberra's role in 1988.

(a) A National Institutions Program should be developed before the end of 1987. I have written to the Ministers responsible for the relevant National Institutions to secure their support for the concept and for a National Institutions promotional program for the next three years. This will be an ongoing program which needs to be set in place during 1987/88 in order to have effect beyond the Bicentennial year.

(b) Officers of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet are planning the opening ceremony for the New Parliament House. Steps are being taken to maximise the tourist opportunities provided by this event and to link them with the overall ACT tourism strategy.

(c) The Bicentennial travelling exhibition will provide a Canberra focus for regional tourism.

(d) Future uses for the provisional Parliament House are the subject of deliberations by an Inter-Departmental Committee. Tourism options are among those being canvassed.

(e) The National Capital Development Commission is preparing a new promotional exhibition at the Regatta Point Planning Exhibition focusing on the Bicentennial theme and the future of Canberra. The exhibition will include a new audio-visual and display material.

(f) Another proposal currently being considered is the staging of a high-quality photographic exhibition in 1988 which will tell the story of the evolution, present and future of the National Capital. There is potential scope for arranging that the exhibition be held in major Australian cities as part of Canberra's contribution to the Bicentennial celebrations.

Recommendation 2

The Committee recommends that an ACT Development Board incorporating the present Canberra Tourist Bureau and the Canberra Development Board be established to promote, develop and provide economic assistance to tourism and hospitality in the ACT. This body should be established independently of the Department of Territories and have sufficient authority to react to changing needs and provide immediate assistance when required and have direct access to the Minister.

(a) A new Canberra Development Board has been ministerially appointed. It represents a range of economic, community and educational interests, and comprises a Chairman (Mr Fulton Muir) and 10 other members. I have determined.

(i) a charter for the new Board and its committees;

(ii) the composition of membership of the new Board and committees; and

(iii) the need to better co-ordinate tourism, commercial and industrial development activities in Canberra.

Recommendation 3

The Committee recommends that the NCDC, in consultation with representatives of the tourist and hospitality industry, should prepare a tourist development plan for the ACT aimed at achieving positive development of the plan from 1988 onwards.

(a) The Government supports this recommendation but the preparation of a Tourist Development Plan by the National Capital Development Commission needs to be considered as one component of a larger Strategic Development Plan for Canberra. Planning for tourism growth must be addressed within the context of an overall strategic development policy which combines all sectors of development activity and city management. This strategic overview will be co-ordinated by the Canberra Development Board with input from the National Capital Development Commission and the Department of Territories.

(b) The National Capital Development Commission has engaged a consultant to analyse current and future trends in tourism, identify opportunities for the ACT and the actions required to realise these opportunities. The consultant's study due in June will provide the basis for industry discussion and the preparation of a Tourist Development Plan Report in August.

(c) This Report to be prepared by the National Capital Development Commission will form the basis for discussion between representatives of the tourist and hospitality industries in order that some positive results be achieved before the end of the year. The Report will provide input into the broader Strategic Development Plan to be prepared by the Canberra Development Board.

Recommendation 4

The Committee recommends the development of more low-cost visitor accommodation in the ACT by the immediate release of land for low-cost accommodation and the promotion of low-cost accommodation options by the ACT Development Board. The Committee further recommends that the National Capital Development Commission give greater encouragement to developers to provide more camping sites in the ACT.

(a) Substantial progress has already been made in the provision of low-cost visitor accommodation in the ACT. Through the Strategic Plan outlined above the full range of accommodation plans for the ACT will be further addressed, particularly as they relate to the tourism infrastructure in Civic.

(b) Beyond Central Canberra, a number of initiatives are being taken by the Department of Territories and the National Capital Development Commission during the next twelve months. Sites have been identified by NCDC at Gold Creek and North Watson. The Gold Creek site, which forms part of the Commission's planning proposals for the development of Gungahlin, will provide opportunities for motel and camping site developments. The Commission will be seeking public comment on the Gold Creek development as part of public consultation on the Gungahlin draft Policy and Development Plan to be released in a few months.

(c) Opportunities for low-cost visitor accommodation have also been identified in the North Watson area incorporating several motel/caravan/camping sites. Sites are expected to be made available by mid-1987.

(d) NCDC has also identified a number of sites for camping grounds within the rural National Capital Open Space System. The sites identified are at Woods Reserve (on the Corin Road), Riverview (on the Naas Road south of Cuppacumbalong), the Molonglo Gorge, Sherwood Forest (north-west of the Cotter) and at the Stromlo Pine Forest.

(e) In identifying these sites the Commission recognises the need for a range of low cost accommodation to meet different demands including lightweight tenting, heavyweight camping, group camping, campervans, caravans and cabins.

(f) NCDC is currently carrying out preliminary landscaping at Woods Reserve and Riverview camping sites. It is proposed that the other sites be released in stages with Woods Reserve and Sherwood Forest in about three years and Riverview in about five to eight years. Consideration is being given to the need for staging of a site at Stromlo Forest.

Recommendation 5

The Committee recommends that a short course be made available to provide assistance to prospective restaurateurs. The Committee regards the Industry Training Committee (ITC) as the most likely authority to conduct such a course but acknowledges that once the nature and resources of the Hospitality Industry Management Committee become clear, that body may emerge as the most appropriate provider of such training.

(a) Training for restaurateurs is considered a high priority task. I have written to my colleague the Minister for Education in order to secure an appropriate course through the Canberra College of TAFE.

(b) In addition the ITC has access to an appropriate course for restaurateurs which has been developed in New South Wales in conjunction with the liquor licensing authority, and can be readily adapted for ACT purposes.

(c) Further, the ACT Small Business Bureau is investigating the possibility of developing a training course for restaurateurs during 1987.

Recommendation 6

The Committee recommends that public health ordinances in the ACT be amended to bring penalties for breaches of the ordinances into line with those in the comparable New South Wales legislation.

(a) This recommendation is supported. Although the penalties in New South Wales are not necessarily appropriate for the ACT, legislation is being prepared which will significantly increase penalties in relation to the handling of food, so that parity with the States is maintained.

(b) This has a high priority within the ACT Health Authority, and should be implemented in the first quarter of 1988.

Recommendation 7

Further, it recommends that the Gaming and Liquor Authority be provided with the necessary resources to conduct adequate inspections of licensed premises.

(a) The thrust underlying this recommendation is supported. The principle impediment to the conducting of adequate inspections has been identified and will shortly be resolved. The Liquor Ordinance 1975 is being amended to streamline the prosecution procedures in relation to underage drinking offences (present procedures are particularly time-consuming). This will enable ACT Gaming and Liquor Authority staff to divert more time and resources to the routine inspection of licensed premises.

Recommendation 8

The Committee recommends that extensions to the School of Catering Studies at Canberra College of TAFE be built as a matter of urgency. To this end it will be necessary for TAFE to accord the highest priority to the project within its building program and also for the NCDC to allocate this the highest priority.

(a) The NCDC on behalf of the Office of ACT Further Education is undertaking design work on the provision of accommodation for the School of Catering Studies and the Department of Meat and Allied Trades at the Canberra College of TAFE. The building is proposed to be located to the east of the existing College buildings. Design studies are currently being carried out and subject to funding in the budget context it is envisaged that tenders will be called in early 1988.

(b) The total project incorporates two new kitchens, training bars and service areas, guest lounge, restaurant and liquor service areas, office and reception area, lecture facilities and student and support staff areas. Extensions proposed for the Butchery include new meat cutting areas, coolrooms, meat processing areas, classrooms, staff amenities and offices.

Recommendation 9

The Committee supports any College initiative to extend the utilisation of available facilities and recommends that staff levels be increased and specifically allocated to the Food School to allow full utilisation of these facilities outside hours of present operation to include evening classes.

(a) I have written to the Minister for Education to ensure that the provision of appropriate resources be accorded a high priority.

(b) In addition, it may be possible to increase the capacity of existing facilities at Canberra College of TAFE in the short term through variation of the length and nature of the traditional period in which daily tuition is provided, or through variation to the academic year.

(c) With the introduction of the new Associate Diploma in Business (Hospitality) the numbers of Dining Room Service, Liquor Service and Practice of Catering subjects have doubled between 1986 and 1987.

(d) A new group of trainees (Waiting) commenced in February 1987, increasing numbers to twenty-five, and the implementation of traineeships for Front Office Reception (Hospitality) is expected to commence in the second semester 1987. Consonant staffing resources have been provided for these new training programs.

Recommendation 10

The Committee recommends that the Canberra College of TAFE and the Industry Training Committee investigate the possibility of seconding institutional kitchens on a part-time, short-term basis to assist in staff training and that a comprehensive search for kitchen facilities suitable and available for short-term training be made.

(a) The Industry Training Committee has and will continue to seek access to institutional and other industry kitchens/facilities for training purposes. Private sector facilities are used by the Industry Training Committee to conduct short training courses (on a contract basis) under the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations Adult Training Program and other industry-initiated training. However, commercial kitchens are generally unsuitable for training. For example, the commercial kitchen at Canberry Fair is available for five months of the year when the establishment is closed for the season, but the facilities are small and best suited to a teacher/student ratio of one to five.

Recommendation 11

The Committee recommends that the Department of Territories and the ACT Schools Authority within existing resources promote awareness of the hospitality industry through the provision of information in secondary schools in the ACT, reporting back to the Committee about the means by which this will be achieved, and the inclusion in the Australian Traineeship Scheme of both occupation-specific courses to address immediate skill needs and courses offering broader-based training.

(a) Action to address this need was initiated late in 1986. The Industry Training Committee organised an information session on the hospitality industry for all ACT and Queanbeyan Careers Co-ordinators in November 1986. This session was well attended by Schools Authority, Tourist Bureau and Departmental personnel.

(b) Three classes in Dining Room Service are to be offered in 1987 to Hawker College students as an introduction to the hospitality industry. The ACT Schools Authority is to provide staff hours with other costs for technical staff, linen and foodstuffs costing $3,000 per annum. In addition the Canberra Tourist Bureau is sponsoring a Young Achievers Company through tourism education foci at Dickson and Copland Colleges.

(c) The Aboriginal Trainee Tourist Officer Program has been piloted through the Canberra Tourist Bureau. The Program, which provides comprehensive training in all aspects of the tourist industry for young Aboriginal and Islander participants commenced on 3 November 1986.

(d) The ACT has also contributed $20,000 towards a national tourism education campaign through the Tourist Ministers' Council.

(e) The Department of Employment and Industrial Relations provides a number of resources for use by ACT schools. As part of national policy the Commonwealth Employment Service Schools Program utilises CES Youth Officers, the Careers Reference Centre, and industry-specific information resources including two videos covering Tourism and Careers In Food, and additional written and audio-visual information on fifteen to twenty hospitality careers.

(f) The objectives of the Australian Traineeship System are to provide relevant and accredited training to young people which will extend their employment prospects within industry. A prerequisite to receive Commonwealth assistance is that a traineeship offer both occupationally-specific and broad-based industry training.

(g) Two industry Working Groups cover the tourism/hospitality industry in the ACT. Both are tripartite sub-committees of the Industry Training Committee. The capacity of industry to develop and implement new traineeships is promoted and reviewed in an ongoing manner. Current relevant traineeships are Hospitality (Waiting) and Office Procedures (Front Office/Reception). Both comply with ATS objectives. The first intake into the Hospitality (Waiting) Traineeship occurred in 1986 and currently nineteen trainees are in place. Further intakes are planned for 1987 and thereafter. The first intake into Front Office/Reception took place in February 1987 with six trainees.

(h) Further developments are expected in 1987 dependent upon industries' capacity to absorb trainees and deliver quality training. The Australian Traineeship System will remain the highest priority of the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations during 1987.

Recommendation 12

The Committee recommends the provision of one-off funding by the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations for Industry Training Committee courses offered under the Adult Training Program in the ACT over the next 18 months.

(a) This recommendation was implemented in 1986/87. The Department of Employment and Industrial Relations negotiated to contract the Industry Training Committee to develop and deliver a series of short training courses utilising Adult Training Program funding during 1986/87. Further negotiation to cover 1987/88 is being undertaken.

(b) During 1986/87 the following courses were negotiated and funded:

Housepersons*

August/September

1986

Kitchenhand

October 1986

Houseperson

November 1986

Kitchenhand

January 1987

Houseperson

February 1987

Kitchenhand

April 1987

Laundryworker/

Cleaner

May 1987

Kitchenhand

June 1987

(*separate agreement)

(c) As a consequence of the Inquiry a package agreement for $76,055 was negotiated with the Industry Training Committee to conduct seven courses for a minimum of 75 trainees. Total cost to the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations excluding advertising and CES resources was $101,468 (including trainee allowances).

(d) Current indications are that a similar agreement with the ITC for 1987/88 will include eight courses for 85 trainees at an estimated cost of $79,000. Resources are expected to be available from existing/projected budget allocations.

(e) CES services are used to identify participants from the Adult Training Program target group and to place successful participants within industry.

(f) Over 90% of those completing training have been placed.

(g) The ACT Office of the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations rates this as its highest priority for utilising Adult Training Program Funds. ACT personnel have contacted new enterprises to offer the full range of CES services. These include input into advertising, pre-selection/interview scheduling, training packages in the Australian Traineeship System and the Adult Training Program, vacancy distribution and the provision of appropriate resources through the Hospitality Service.

Recommendation 13

The Committee recommends the introduction of a group apprenticeship in cooking.

(a) The Industry Training Committee has established a steering committee comprising industry representatives, Canberra TAFE, the Liquor Union and the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations, to investigate the potential for a group apprenticeship scheme for cooks.

(b) Further development and progress towards a feasible group apprentice scheme must originate from the Industry. Once a proposal is developed, the funds which have been provided by the Government for this purpose can be used. Assistance is based on the number of apprentices to be taken on, and includes gradients for growth of a scheme. Assistance ranges from $38,000 for up to 25 apprentices, to $160,000 for 200 apprentices, effective from 1 April 1987.

Recommendation 14

The Committee recommends the introduction of pre-employment courses by Canberra College of TAFE in 1987 as part of a revised course structure.

(a) An assistant cooks course could be implemented by the second semester 1987 subject to the successful adaptation of existing interstate curricula to ACT requirements. A twelve-month development phase would be necessary in the development of a new curriculum.

(b) Such a course could probably accommodate 24 students in two groups per year.

(c) The Government would encourage the development of such an initiative by industry in response to its own needs.

Recommendation 15

It further recommends that pre-employment courses not be restricted to the trade of cooking but offered for all hospitality industry trades.

(a) Formal pre-employment courses within other trades will be supported if industry perceives the need. The Government would encourage the development of courses with recognised accreditation.

Recommendation 16

The Committee recommends that existing arrangements for the use of revenue generated by commercial operations at Canberra College of TAFE be reviewed to determine whether greater flexibility could be achieved.

(a) I have referred this matter to my colleague the Minister for Education.

(b) The Office of ACT Further Education will undertake the recommended review in mid-1987 in consultation with the Department of Finance.

(c) One possibility which the Review should consider is the establishment of a Canberra TAFE College Trust Account. This would provide the flexibility to channel any profits from leisure courses into vocational training, and thereby reduce the burden on the ACT territorial account.

Recommendation 17

The Committee recommends that the Industry Training Committee continue to monitor the industry's longer term employment and training needs.

(a) The Government rates the continuation of this monitoring service as extremely important. As part of its charter the Industry Training Committee provides relevant labour market information to the Government through the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations. Information is used to develop and implement Department of Employment and Industrial Relations programs and services as appropriate.

(b) In addition, the ACT Development Board will monitor vocational training needs in the ACT and will work closely with the Industry Training Committee on this matter.

Recommendation 18

The Committee recommends variation of awards covering apprentice cooks in the ACT to provide an apprentice/tradesperson ratio of 1:3 or part thereof (ie 1:1 or 1:2) and to give the ACT Apprenticeship Board the discretion to vary that ratio in cases where it sees fit, so that awards reflect current industry needs and practices.

(a) Although both the Government and the Federated Liquor and Allied Industries Employees' Union support the variation of awards to modify apprentice/tradesperson ratios to more accurately reflect the needs of industry, early resolution of this matter is unlikely, due to the alignment of this issue with that of the introduction of a 38-hour week, which has yet to be resolved before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.

(b) I have asked my colleague the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations to address this recommendation as a matter of priority.

Recommendation 19

The Committee recommends that junior rates of pay be applied only to permanent employees and that the nature of job training be specified in any arrangement for the introduction of a junior rate.

(a) The Government shares the Committee's concern that juniors not be exploited as a source of cheap labour for employers.

(b) I have asked the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations to give his early consideration to this issue.

Recommendation 20

The Committee also recommends the waiving of payroll tax on juniors, as a further incentive to employers to employ and train juniors.

(a) Although the Government supports the development of incentives to employers to train and employ junior staff, the waiving of payroll tax on juniors is not supported.

(b) The removal of payroll tax on juniors would presently provide an unfair bonus to the ACT employment sector and encourage other employee groups to seek similar exemptions. This would erode the ACT taxation base. Taxation exemption represents a `hidden subsidy', which is contrary to the Government's view that all forms of assistance to particular groups should be readily identifiable by the wider community.

Recommendation 21

The Committee recommends the introduction of provisions for permanent part-time employment into ACT hospitality awards. It is anxious to ensure that such provisions facilitate the employment of permanent part-time employees and advocates that the relevant provisions of Public Service awards be examined as a possible model.

(a) The Government supports this reform in the interests of a flexible industry, and I have asked the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations to give his early consideration to this issue. The proposed reforms are consistent with those in the Australian Public Service which have the support of unions.

Recommendation 22

The Committee recommends that the Department of Territories give urgent attention to the need to restructure the worker's compensation system in the ACT.

(a) The Department of Territories is currently devoting resources to bring ACT support mechanisms into line with incentives available in other States and Territories by late 1987.

(b) The Department has engaged a consultant to advise on policy options for changes to the ACT Workers Compensation Scheme. A report from the consultant is due by mid-1987.

(c) In regard to all first-year apprentices and Australian Traineeship Scheme participants, the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations and the Department of Territories have jointly examined the creation of employer rebates (or exemptions) from workers compensation and payroll tax. Changes impacting on these groups will be implemented in the near future.