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Thursday, 19 June 2003
Page: 17137

Mr JOHN COBB (1:17 PM) —When it comes to tourism, my electorate of Parkes has so much to offer. As the gateway to Australia's Red Centre, it offers some of the most amazingly diverse landscapes in New South Wales, from the world renowned Western Plains Zoo in the electorate's largest city, Dubbo, to the living desert near the famous pioneering silver city of Broken Hill, probably the most famous regional city in Australia—not to mention the amazing sites and destinations in between, and the outback communities that boast of a former glory during Australia's pioneering years.

But in an age when competing for the tourist dollar has become a cut-throat industry, simply having the attractions is not enough. It is about marketing them, and marketing them to the right people. It is about thinking outside the square, and doing it better than everyone else. There is one tiny community in the far corner of the electorate which is proving that distance does not have to be a barrier when it comes to attracting tourists. The remote community I am talking about is Tibooburra. Tibooburra is a real example of the living outback. It has a small country population and a wide variety of native wildlife and wildflowers located in the region. The explorers' history and the harsh, rugged lifestyle that people would have encountered during these early times is still hauntingly real for anyone who spends time there. It is the most remote community in the electorate, located 335 kilometres north of Broken Hill, 1,500 kilometres north-west of Sydney and over 900 kilometres from Adelaide.

Tibooburra attracts around 50,000 tourists travelling through the town each year. A large attraction is the Sturt National Park, and there are places like Innaminka, Cameron Corner and Thargomindah. At least two and up to four rallies pass through the town each year, which the local catering committee caters for and then distributes that money around the town. It is something the whole town gets behind, supporting one another and working for the good of the community. They attract visitors from right around the world, all keen to catch a glimpse of this rare corner of Australia and the outback lifestyle enjoyed by locals. Tibooburra is living proof that distance is no barrier to tourism.

Broken Hill is another great example. It is a city that thrives on art and culture, partly because of its incredibly rich multicultural background—a background that goes back beyond the turn of the century, or the century before. Home of the famous Pro Hart, Broken Hill has turned art into a tourist industry. It is a mecca for art lovers, and that is one of the strengths the city is promoting to attract the tourist dollar. Broken Hill has something like 39 art galleries.

Broken Hill is, without doubt, the gateway to the outback. To get tourists into the other little areas in the far west, they must first come to Broken Hill. The vision for the area is to encourage tourists to stay longer in the remote far west. Rather than just spending three days in and out of Broken Hill, there is a move to keep tourists for five days, where they can visit the outlying communities in the outback—for example, Milparinka, Tibooburra, White Cliffs and Menindee. We are talking about tourists getting up into the corner country, where South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland meet.

I made an election promise of $200,000 for three years—$600,000 in total—to help the remote far west promote itself as a tourist destination. I am happy to say that that is a promise I was able to deliver on. The Federation Tourism Promotion Committee, with representatives from the whole area, has been set up as a result of that funding. The idea is to see how to get best value for money in promoting the region and how to best channel that funding. From the funding, a person will be contracted to target selective demographics in Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong, to push and promote the region as a tourist destination. Conferencing has also become a big part of tourism, due to a need to diversify. Another person has been selected by that committee to promote Broken Hill to conference organisers around the major capitals of Australia.

Someone thinking of going to Broken Hill and that region might think that once you have seen one outback town you have seen them all and may wonder how long you can spend in a town of only 20,000-odd people. I have been to Broken Hill a heck of a lot of times in the last few years and anybody could spend a week in that region and still not see it all. Broken Hill is to mining what the merino sheep was to Australia. (Time expired)