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Thursday, 16 February 2017
Page: 1414


Ms MADELEINE KING (Brand) (11:43): One beautiful day, a sunny day in January, I was walking my old dogs, Blue and Jack, along the beautiful dog beach of Shoalwater Bay. I stopped by a bit to let my feet sink in the sand and to take in in the wonderful view of a tiny bit of the Indian Ocean. A woman stopped alongside me and she said, 'You know, you mustn't tell anyone about this place.' I nodded and thought: 'Perhaps she's right. Perhaps this place is too good to share.' But, on reflection, I think the fortunate people of Safety Bay and Shoalwater must be generous, and we must tell the world about this beautiful little town that we live in and this beautiful place that we have. We must share this beauty with the world.

The cities of Rockingham and Kwinana in my electorate of Brand are home to a treasure trove of tourism gems: nature based, action-packed attractions, well frequented by locals but not so much by tourists. While these attractions are not widely known outside our local communities, they do have the potential to attract both domestic and international tourists, if only the right support was in place. By support, of course, I mean funding.

Only recently, I dropped into the local visitor centre in Rockingham on Kent Street, right next to my electorate office, where I was told that, due to a shortage in funding, they could not deliver marketing programs to attract visitors to the area's many attractions. These attractions are many and diverse. They include the stunningly beautiful Shoalwater Islands, which include Penguin Island, home to a colony of fairy penguins—the smallest penguins with the world. There is a discovery centre where you can learn all about them. The attractions include Seal Island, where you can kayak and where, if you are lucky and patient, sea lions and their pups will come out and play with you from their rest on the beach. Some might have seen my short videos, which I posted on Instagram, of my summer days swimming with the sea lions of Seal Island off Shoalwater. I know the Prime Minister likes to kayak along the prestigious bays of Sydney Harbour, so perhaps—if he ever returns to Western Australia—he might like to take a cruise down to Rockingham and have a paddle around Shoalwater. I would be only too pleased to escort him on that trip. There are many adventure activities, including Rockingham dive trail, where a purpose dive wreck trail features scuttled boats. There are aircraft that do skydiving adventures over Rockingham and land on the beach. There is the Perth Motorplex at Kwinana Beach, with its wide catalogue of events from monster trucks to sprint car racing and nitro funny cars. It attracts crowds of car enthusiasts of all ages. The waterski park, only half an hour from Perth's CBD, has lakes, jumps, a world-class slalom course and great tuition to boot.

We know that tourism is a key economic driver for the country and in fact it has overtaken coal as one of Australia's biggest exports. According to the most recent figures from Tourism WA, the industry injects $10 billion into the Western Australian economy and generates more than 97,000 jobs. But the coalition government has not released its plan for tourism. What it has done, in its last term, is cut regional tourism infrastructure grants and slash investment-driven data and research funding. Tourism is an important driver for local jobs and economic development. It is a super growth industry growing at 5.3 per cent compared to the 1.6 per cent growth seen in the wider economy. Across Australia tourism is worth three per cent of our total GDP. There is phenomenal potential here, if only the industry were funded correctly.

This brings me back to my local community. We have found that, because of a lack of funding, the fantastic resources on our doorstep are not being realised. There are pockets of youth unemployment in my electorate, double the national average at 13.6 per cent. That is a shocking figure. The jobs potential that comes with investing in tourism is being ignored by both federal and state Liberal governments. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel: Mark McGowan and WA Labor understand how important tourism is for the Western Australian industry. It is important to invest in marketing and attract communities, who will create more jobs in Western Australia and, in particular, in Brand. Paul Papalia, the shadow minister for tourism—and, I might say, the local member for Warnbro in my electorate—and WA Labor as a whole have committed to invest $425 million in tourism that will promote Western Australia as the desirable tourist destination that we know it is.

WA's peak tourism body, Tourism WA, knows how important marketing Perth and local areas is to encourage visitors into our community. Tourism WA has said that even a minor investment in marketing gets big returns. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Western Australia has said that funding marketing to raise Perth's profile will create around 4,000 jobs. That is a significant figure. Unfortunately for WA, the Barnett government's 2016 state budget saw a $6.2 million cut to Tourism WA for marketing from 2017-18 to 2019-20, as well as an estimated 30 per cent cut to future marketing funding by 2019-20. That is a dreadful state of affairs. Fortunately, a future state Labor government in WA knows how important it is to fund marketing events, with Labor and Mark McGowan committed to investing $425 million in promoting WA. (Time expired).