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ECONOMICS LEGISLATION COMMITTEE
02/06/2009
RESOURCES, ENERGY AND TOURISM PORTFOLIO
Tourism Australia

CHAIR —I welcome Senator Sherry, the Minister, and the Department of Tourism, Energy and Resources for Outcome 1: Tourism. I understand we have the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism and Tourism Australia at the table. Do either of those groups wish to make an opening statement? No. Senator Ronaldson.

Senator RONALDSON —I understand, Mr Buckley, you are leaving at the end of June. Is that right?

Mr Buckley —That is correct. Yes, 30 June.

Senator RONALDSON —I also understand that Mr Greg Hywood, who is currently the CEO of Tourism Victoria, had been expected to fill the position and in mid-May he announced that he would not. There has been a lot of industry speculation as to why that might have been, so I will get to that shortly. What recruitment agency was engaged to replace Mr Buckley?

Mr Buckley —Spencer Stuart was the recruitment agency used to help in the recruitment process by the board.

Senator RONALDSON —What was the recruitment fee payable to Spencer Stuart?

Mr Buckley —The recruitment process is still ongoing, so I have not got those figures to hand. Given the process is still ongoing, I am not sure that there is a final number. I will take that on notice.

Senator RONALDSON —Has anything been paid to date?

Mr Buckley —I would need to check that.

Senator RONALDSON —Has there been an extension of that contract?

Mr Buckley —The contract is to the completion of the recruitment process.

Senator RONALDSON —Is all or part of that contingent on there being a successful candidate?

Mr Buckley —Again, I cannot answer that.

Senator RONALDSON —What are the total costs expended in seeking your replacement to date? Do you know?

Mr Buckley —I will take that on notice as well.

Senator RONALDSON —I do not know whether this is a matter for the department or TA. What date was Mr Hywood first offered that position of managing director?

Mr Buckley —I cannot answer that. Firstly, I do not know and, secondly, we do not talk about individual candidates while the recruitment process is continuing.

Senator RONALDSON —What do you mean you do not know?

Mr Buckley —I was not part of the—

Senator RONALDSON —Mr Hywood was offered the job, was he not?

Mr Buckley —I cannot confirm that.

Mr Clarke —The recruitment process is being managed by the chair of the TA board. It is a matter of correspondence between the chair of the TA board and the minister. Mr Buckley, as the outgoing managing director, would not be privy to the internal details of the correspondence between the TA board chair and the minister.

Senator RONALDSON —That is your answer. When was Mr Greg Hywood first offered the position of managing director? Someone at this table knows when that occurred. I want someone to tell me when he was first offered the job as managing director. Mr Buckley, I cannot believe that you are not aware of whether your future replacement had been offered a job and, from the department’s point of view, I cannot believe that you were not aware that Mr Hywood was offered this job, either. So, when was he offered the job?

Senator Sherry —Mr Buckley has answered the question honestly. He does not know the date. He was not part of the process.

Mr Buckley —That is correct.

Senator RONALDSON —You are acknowledging that he was offered the job, but you do not know when it was.

Mr Buckley —I cannot acknowledge that he was offered the job, no.

Senator RONALDSON —Can you deny that he was offered the job?

Mr Buckley —It is in process within the board. The recruitment process is still ongoing. As a matter of policy, as an organisation, we do not reveal the individual candidates when a recruitment process is involved.

Senator RONALDSON —You and I know where this is going. Let us cut to the chase. Let us stop circling around the outside of this. Are you denying that Mr Greg Hywood was offered the job of managing director?

Mr Buckley —I am saying to you I do not know whether he was or was not. I do not know whether he was a formal candidate or not. All of that has been speculation in the newspapers as far as I am concerned. I am not privy to that process while it is ongoing.

Senator RONALDSON —What about you, Mr Clarke? Are you denying that Mr Hywood was offered the job?

Mr Clarke —I am saying to you that there is a process of recruitment ongoing which is being managed by the chair of the TA board in consultation with the minister. I am not at liberty to talk about any details inside that process. It is an ongoing process, the outcome of which has not yet been determined.

Senator RONALDSON —What about the contract that was prepared for Mr Hywood? When was that prepared?

Mr Pierce —I do not think any of us are aware.

Senator RONALDSON —Madam Chair, I do not need to go through with these witnesses their obligations in relation to evidence before this committee, do I?

CHAIR —I think they have explained their position, their roles and responsibilities very clearly in relation to this position. I think they are answering your questions very straightforwardly.

Senator RONALDSON —Do you think I should run with them about the open and frank responses that they are required to give this committee or not?

CHAIR —I believe that they have been giving open and frank answers.

Senator RONALDSON —Everyone around here knows, and the officers know, and I can see by the looks on their faces that they know, that Greg Hywood was offered this job and he knocked it back. On what date did Mr Hywood advise that he would not be accepting the position?

Senator Sherry —We will take that question on notice. As has already been indicated, the recruitment process is still ongoing. There has not been an appointment made.

Senator RONALDSON —No. You know why it is ongoing, Minister. it is because you offered the job to someone and he knocked it back. Do you want me to tell you what the reason was? Everyone around this table knows what it is, but maybe if you do not then I will tell you. The reason was regarding the future of Tourism Research Australia, the TRA. That is why Mr Hywood knocked the job back. Everyone at this table knows that is the reason, but no-one is prepared to fess up that he was offered a contract and knocked it back because of his concerns about TRA. Does anyone want to proffer an opinion at the table, or are we all going to think, ‘We all know what he is talking about but we do not want to talk about it.’ Is that the way we are going to approach this today?

Senator Sherry —No. We will take questions on notice. There is an ongoing appointment process and it has not been completed.

Senator RONALDSON —But it was completed, wasn’t it?

Senator Sherry —The process of appointment has not been completed. No appointment has been made.

Senator RONALDSON —Are you going to take on notice whether Mr Greg Hywood was offered the job?

Senator Sherry —Yes.

Senator RONALDSON —You are?

Senator Sherry —Yes.

Senator RONALDSON —You are going to take on notice whether a contract had been prepared by the department for his signature?

Senator Sherry —Yes.

Senator RONALDSON —Are you going to take on notice that he refused to take the job?

Senator Sherry —Yes.

Senator RONALDSON —Are you going to take on notice that the reason he refused to take the job was regarding the future of Tourism Research Australia?

Senator Sherry —Yes.

Senator RONALDSON —Thank you. Just to double check, have Spencer Stuart claimed any part-success fee because they found Mr Hywood, but then he refused to take the job because of some argy-bargy with the minister’s office in relation to TRA? Have they claimed any success fee in relation to getting Mr Hywood?

Senator Sherry —Mr Buckley has already answered that. He will take it on notice to see if there have been any payments made, but he does not know, and he has already stated that very clearly. If any other witness has any detail about whether any payments have been made, they may be able to answer, but Mr Buckley cannot.

Senator RONALDSON —You will take on notice whether any requests were made by Spencer Stuart for a success fee payment?

Senator Sherry —We will certainly take it on notice.

Senator RONALDSON —Minister, I am prepared to accept that you do not know about this but I am counting seven people sitting at this table who know exactly what happened with Mr Hywood.

Senator Sherry —I think that is a bit—

Senator RONALDSON —I accept you do not know. I am sure you would tell me if you did know about it, but everyone at the table knows exactly what happened.

Senator Sherry —I do not know how you can claim that everyone at the table knows. The witness, Mr Buckley, has well explained his particular perspective and understanding of the issue and, as other witnesses have indicated, there is an appointment process part way through. It is not completed.

Senator RONALDSON —Does the chair normally come to Senate estimates?

Mr Clarke —No, not normally.

Senator RONALDSON —The chair was not here last time?

Mr Clarke —No.

Senator RONALDSON —The time before that?

Mr Clarke —No.

Senator RONALDSON —Mr Buckley, I understand that the minister wrote to Mr Allert advising him that TRA, Tourism Research Australia, would be moved from TA to the department. Do you remember when that letter was received?

Mr Buckley —No, I would need to take that on notice.

Senator RONALDSON —Of course, as managing director, you know that the letter was written, do you not?

Mr Buckley —I know a letter was written.

Senator RONALDSON —I will play dentist. Did the letter that was written happen to relate to TRA?

Mr Buckley —Yes.

Senator RONALDSON —Indeed, the minister wrote to Mr Allert advising Mr Allert that TRA would be moved from TA into the department. Is that what the letter was about?

Mr Buckley —I would need to check the details of the letter to be clear about what the specific question was that the minister put to Mr Allert. It was certainly concerning TRA and it was an issue raised for us to investigate.

Senator RONALDSON —Yes. What you were going to investigate was the movement of TRA from TA to the department; is that correct?

Mr Buckley —That was one of the options to be considered, correct.

Senator RONALDSON —Indeed. We have got to point one. Thank you. What advice did the department give to the minister that gave rise to the letter?

Senator Sherry —You know that is advice to the minister.

Senator RONALDSON —Did you provide advice to the minister in relation to the contents of the letter from the minister to the chair of TA regarding the removal of TRA from TA back to the department?

Mr Clarke —We have provided advice to the minister on all aspects relating to tourism, including the appropriate structures for the performance of the various research functions.

Senator RONALDSON —Did you see this letter, did you help draft the letter or were you aware of the letter prior to the minister sending it to Mr Allert?

Mr Clarke —We are aware of correspondence of that nature, yes.

Senator RONALDSON —Just as well we are sitting for a week, Madam Chair. I wish I were getting paid by the hour because I would make a lot of money out of this, I can assure you.

Senator Sherry —Unfortunately, as I discovered, that does not apply to shadow ministers.

Senator RONALDSON —Ain’t that the truth! Mr Pierce or Mr Clarke, has that letter since been retracted? Mr Buckley, has that letter since been withdrawn by the minister regarding that request?

Mr Clarke —Not that we are aware of. The letter still stands.

Senator RONALDSON —Mr Buckley?

Mr Buckley —There has been no further response, no.

Senator RONALDSON —Has there been any contact from the department or the minister about the initial decision to remove TRA from TA to the department? Has there been new advice in relation to that matter?

Mr Clarke —Not that we are aware of.

Senator RONALDSON —The letter from the minister to Mr Allert was advising him that it was going to be moved. Is the department or the minister proceeding with that transfer of TRA from TA to the department?

Mr Pierce —We expect it to happen. There is nothing that would occur to us that would reverse that. In fact, I think it is later this week that I am scheduled to have a discussion with the chair about that very topic, which will be the first opportunity that we have had to do that.

Senator RONALDSON —Is the discussion between yourself and the chair—Mr Allert of TA, for those who might be listening to this—to advise him that the minister’s decision still stands or is the discussion to see whether there will be other matters involving TRA which would enable it to stay within Tourism Australia?

Mr Pierce —I do not know what the chair’s view would be. From my viewpoint, I was not aware that there might be a question about whether the minister’s decision still stands. I am just taking that as a given. The purpose of the discussion, from my viewpoint, is to talk about the nature of research activities, which goes much broader than just the sorts of things that TRA does, and to talk about what sort of research the minister is seeking to have undertaken within the department, as distinct from that which would continue within TA.

Senator RONALDSON —Has a final decision been made on where TRA should sit?

Mr Pierce —As far as I am aware, yes it has.

Senator RONALDSON —Back to the department?

Mr Pierce —Yes.

Senator RONALDSON —Why would you be meeting with Mr Allert to talk to him about this? Is this to discuss with him the transition process?

Mr Pierce —We want to be clear on what the nature of the research is that the minister would seek to have undertaken through TRA with the department, what sort of research would also be undertaken by TA, how the two relate to one another and how the department and TA may set up processes to make sure that nothing slips between the cracks and that we both understand what each party is doing.

Senator RONALDSON —Are some of TRA’s responsibilities going to be split between Tourism Australia and the department?

Mr Pierce —It is yet to be discussed, but you could imagine that some of the work that TRA has done in the past may be able to be done by TA and some of the work that perhaps the minister is looking for to be done within the department through TA would be new types of research for TRA.

Senator RONALDSON —This was in response to TA and certainly industry stakeholders who were outraged about this transfer of Tourism Research Australia out of Tourism Australia to the department. Industry stakeholders were beside themselves, were they not? There were a lot of complaints. TA received a lot of complaints from industry stakeholders about this.

Mr Buckley —No formal complaints have been received by TA from the industry regarding the issue at this stage.

Senator RONALDSON —And informally?

Mr Buckley —A lot of discussion, yes.

Senator RONALDSON —They might not have put something in writing but there was a lot of discussion amongst the industry about the outcome of the decision to take TRA out of TA into the department; wasn’t there?

Mr Buckley —A lot of discussion.

Senator RONALDSON —I presume that was probably communicated to the department and to the minister?

Mr Buckley —I cannot answer that.

Senator RONALDSON —I put it to you that it was and indeed that what has flowed from that is Mr Pierce’s meeting with Mr Allert to try to claw back a bit of support from industry in relation to this matter by sharing some of the responsibilities of TRA, of which we have had an acknowledgment, I think, unless I am verballing Mr Pierce as to what the meeting was about.

Mr Pierce —I think you are ascribing a motive that was certainly not in my mind nor was it as far as I could tell in the request from the minister for us to sit and meet.

Senator RONALDSON —Just by way of a quick potted history, the minister wrote to the chair telling him TRA was gone. Industry, although they did not put it in writing, were incensed about this arrangement. That was communicated to the minister and now there is some attempt to keep some of the TRA responsibilities within Tourism Australia as opposed to a full transfer to the department? Is that a reasonable précis?

Mr Pierce —Not from my perspective. You would appreciate that I have come to this relatively recently, so that the view that I would have is that there are all sorts of different types of research. This is part of the problem. People use this term ‘research’ as if it is a homogenous glob. There are different types of research that are appropriate to be undertaken within this sector. There are parts of that that, in the minister’s view, he would prefer to be undertaken within the department; but, likewise, there would be parts of it which would be totally appropriate to be undertaken by TA.

Senator RONALDSON —Are any of those things that TRA used to do within TA going to be retained by TA?

Mr Pierce —That is a possibility, but that is the subject of the discussions that we initiated through the meeting I will be having with the chair later this week so that we both work through a common understanding of what the totality of the research that is appropriate. If I may just add one comment through you, Chair, that I understand that this organisation, TRA, was in relatively recent times part of the department and was shifted across to TA in 2004, but prior to that it was part of the department. That is just by way of context.

Senator RONALDSON —That does not necessarily mean that it should therefore return to the department.

Mr Pierce —No, but it is just that it is not historically unusual.

Senator RONALDSON —Mr Buckley, can I wish you well for your future.

Mr Buckley —Thank you. I appreciate that.

Senator RONALDSON —I thank you for the assistance you have given this committee in the past with your attendances. I am aware that when I read the book I am sure our discussions today will feature a paragraph somewhere because you and I both know where Mr Hywood would sit in this but I accept that there is only so much you can say—

CHAIR —Thank you, senator—

Senator RONALDSON —I think Senator Feeney wants to say something.

Senator PRATT —You give your good wishes and then you go and make a remark like that.

Senator FEENEY —You were on the cusp of sincerity there, Senator.

Senator Sherry —If you want to be a touch critical of Mr Buckley but to do it—

Senator RONALDSON —I was not being critical of Mr Buckley at all. In fact, I reject that.

Senator FEENEY —It is my privilege to be a Victorian senator and I want to ask some questions that pertain to the work of the department in Victoria with respect to the bushfires, so if there is an officer who can assist me, that would be superb. As you would be familiar with, many of the bushfire-affected areas in Victoria possessed lively tourism industries. They are obviously important industries with respect to local employment and the local economies. Could you firstly tell me what kind of assistance the department is providing with respect to bushfire-affected areas?

Ms Madden —As you may recall, fairly shortly after the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria the Minister for Tourism, Martin Ferguson, with the Premier of Victoria, John Brumby, announced jointly a $10 million tourism industry support package. That was announced on 17 March and it comprised $5 million worth of direct support from the state of Victoria, with matching Commonwealth funding of $5 million. As mentioned, it was specifically targeted to support businesses and regions adjoining the fire affected areas, those experiencing financial difficulty as a result of the fire. It had three elements to it: a corporate marketing and brand rebuilding program—that was $6 million. There was a $1 million program to bring forward postponed events and marketing of existing events. And there was $3 million in support to assist with the enhancement and redevelopment of tourism and visitor facility infrastructure in the national, state and regional parks adjoining the bushfire-affected areas.

These details were announced in March, as I mentioned, and a task force comprising representatives of the department with the Victorian government, jointly chaired in fact by us and the Victoria government, but with representation from Parks Victoria, Parks Australia, Tourism Australia—my colleagues here—and industry representatives has been meeting regularly and several projects have already been approved and are underway since the announcement. I would be happy to give details on that either now or—

Senator FEENEY —Can you tell me how much of that $10 million sum has been spent to date?

Ms Madden —Yes. I understand that to date $2.557 million has been spent for eight projects. A further $3 million for seven infrastructure projects has been approved in principle—

Senator FEENEY —I missed that second figure.

Ms Madden —It was $2.557 million and the second was a further $3 million, bringing the total to $5.557 million. The latter figure of $3 million actually relates to infrastructure. Some final implementation details are just being negotiated. But that is over half the package that has actually either been spent or is in the final stages of implementation.

Senator FEENEY —When you talked about the task force you mentioned a number of agencies and you touched upon industry groups as well. Above and beyond those, are there other entities that you have consulted with in constructing this package?

Ms Madden —Indeed. The process has been quite extensive, with consultation taking place including through direct visitation to the bushfire-affected areas. There has been a lot of close involvement with the Commonwealth’s national disaster relief and recovery committees. There has also been a lot of outreach with local councils and community organisations both through the committee and some of the representative members using their networks and community linkages so that the committee can be as informed as possible about the needs on the ground in the bushfire-affected and adjoining areas.

Senator FEENEY —You might take these two final questions on notice if that is convenient? The first is that you spoke about the $2.557 million that had been spent to date on eight projects. Could you perhaps give me those eight projects?

Ms Madden —Yes.

Senator FEENEY —Secondly, you talked about $3 million that had been spent to date on infrastructure. Could you provide some more particulars on those infrastructure works on notice?

Ms Madden —Certainly. I actually have all the details here and available so—

Senator FEENEY —Maybe if you tendered them?

Ms Madden —maybe my colleagues would be prepared to table those today.

Senator FEENEY —That would be terrific, thank you.

CHAIR —Thank you, Senator Feeney. Senator Joyce.

Senator JOYCE —Who is responsible for managing swine flu?

Mr Pierce —Primarily it is the department of health, but from a tourism perspective Ms Madden will answer the question.

Senator JOYCE —I just know that we have a few issues on the news every night. We seem to have developed a whole new meaning for a hospital shift. What is the plan that Tourism Australia has on board to mitigate the effects of swine flu or other pandemics that might become apparent?

Mr Clarke —The question actually relates to TA’s actual response and we would refer to Mr Buckley.

Ms Madden —Maybe I could just make some introductory remarks because, while the Department of Health and Ageing has primary responsibility, we have been supporting them with a National Tourism Incident Response Plan. This was discussed at previous Senate estimates. This is a mechanism that supports the need for consistent messaging amongst tourism stakeholders, state and territory governments—

Senator JOYCE —Is screening people effective? Is it working?

Ms Madden —The screening issues are a matter for the Department of Health and Ageing, not for the Tourism Incident Response Plan, although, based on information provided by Health, we have been promulgating health advice for visitors, supporting small businesses with information regarding swine flu, particularly because a large majority—over 91 per cent—of the tourism sector is small businesses. There have also been a range of materials developed both by the Department of Health and Ageing and others that we are promulgating and helping the tourism industry to use. They are things like information materials and DVDs for accommodation, hotels and so forth. Tourism Australia also has a range of marketing and industry partner communication messages that have been feeding into this coordinated approach. Maybe Mr Buckley might like to elaborate further on TA’s role.

Mr Buckley —Our role at this stage is primarily dissemination of information to the industry and to the consumer. We have already undertaken a number of initiatives working closely with both the industry and the state and territory tourism organisations and also our network overseas to try to get as much information as we can. We have issued information updates on the status of swine flu in Australia and then have just tried to help the industry inform their industry network.

I think the biggest particular focus so far has been the Japanese market, which has reacted perhaps differently to a lot of the other markets. Globally we have taken some very strong engagement processes. We have tried to proactively engage with all the partners. We have contacted all the relevant Japanese schools in terms of just what the status was—

Senator JOYCE —That is interesting. What exactly do we say to the Japanese schools about swine flu in Australia?

Mr Buckley —It is really about passing the information on. At different stages there were different sorts of messages coming from Health and we were communicating those through in terms of whether there was any swine flu in Australia or not and what might be—

Senator JOYCE —What is our message now that there is? Have you got the latest one?

Ms Crowley —The messages are essentially about just ensuring that the trade are getting accurate information as opposed to information sourced perhaps from the Japanese media. It has really been an exercise in making sure that they understand, even in a translation sense, exactly what the ramifications of swine flu are, particularly where there has been quarantine. The first cases of H1N1 in Japan itself came from a Japanese school group that went to Canada, so there is great sensitivity amongst parents. That is a major market for us. It has just been really about ensuring that they have accurate information from which to make their own decisions.

Senator JOYCE —Do we give them the number of swine flu cases in Australia and where they are?

Ms Crowley —That is right. We are also providing the same information to the Japanese media. We contacted 600 separate journalists within Japan to ensure that they went to the right sources for up-to-date information at all times, and that is obviously the health department’s information.

Senator JOYCE —What did they think was happening that we had to give them further information?

Ms Crowley —If they are sourcing information from other media reporting, it can sometimes become a little inaccurate—

Senator JOYCE —Such as?

Ms Crowley —It is really just ensuring that, if they are going to make an interpretation, they make it from the accurate information of the day. As we all know, this information can be nuanced that so people can misinterpret it, so it has really been making sure that they had the right sources of information at all times.

Senator JOYCE —How is it actually affecting our tourism industry? Are the numbers peeling off because of it?

Mr Buckley —We are not seeing anything from any markets other than Japan. At this stage we are not seeing any reaction from our industry partners. This has got to be anecdotal at this point. We are aware of some cancellations of these Japanese school groups. That has been occurring outbound from Japan not just to Australia but globally, and I suppose we have just tried to be a bit proactive in that area to give them the best information that we have available. They will need to make the call as parents responsible for the students.

Senator JOYCE —Would we get to a position in Australia—obviously you must be aware of some sort of plan—that we would have to close down our public transport sector if swine flu—

Mr Buckley —We take the lead from the broader government response.

Ms Madden —The Department of Health and Ageing coordinates the whole-of-government plan, which is called the National Action Plan for Pandemic Influenza. As you would be aware, there are multiple levels to the plan. Last week Nicola Roxon, the Minister for Health and Ageing, announced an increase in the alert level to ‘contain’, which triggers under the action plan a range of steps and initiatives.

Senator JOYCE —Is one of those steps closing down public transport?

Ms Madden —That is not a step related to the stage of ‘contain’.

Senator JOYCE —Is it anywhere in the plan?

Ms Madden —In the most extreme cases of the plan there are steps to curtail public transport, I believe. But we are just checking that here.

Mr Buckley —There are border controls initially.

Ms Madden —The first point of entry would be border control if, as I said, the rating or level under the National Action Plan for Pandemic Influenza was significantly increased. Nicola Roxon has announced that as at 22 May we are at the level of containment. I should point out that the Australia-Japan tourism talks are currently on in Hokkaido, Japan this week and we are using them as an opportunity also to enhance consumer confidence and to spread awareness about the measures that the government has in place to managing this influenza to the best of our abilities.

Senator JOYCE —What are those things that show confidence that we are managing a potential pandemic, or the influenza crisis?

Senator Sherry —As the witnesses have indicated, this is an area for the Department of Health and Ageing. They have got the overall departmental coordination and leadership role for this.

Senator JOYCE —I just want to know what happens in tourism.

Senator Sherry —If it is related to tourism, that is fine.

Senator JOYCE —Obviously there is a part in the plan where you have to close down public transport; I know that. I just want to know what the plan for tourism is if this event occurs. What do you have in mind? I imagine at a certain point in time you are going to need some sort of support package that will have to be given to people in the tourism industry. I want to know whether our nation has the money put aside to be able to do that.

Ms Madden —Related to the national plan, as I mention, is the specific Tourism Incident Response Plan. If the level of the national alert goes to a higher level that will trigger other measures that we will need to take, including increasing communication with all the airlines, all the state and territory tourism bodies and so forth. At this level we are meeting regularly, as my colleagues have mentioned, which is partly to address any misperceptions or confusion about the state of the disease in Australia and problems such as the specific Japanese school group case.

Senator JOYCE —Is there anywhere in that plan anything about providing financial assistance for small business—which, as you have stated, is 90 per cent of the industry—if the swine flu epidemic gets to such a position that it actually closes down small business? If we have to shut down internal and external flights, that will be the end of North Queensland; it will be the end of a whole range of other places in the tourism industry. I am sure if they are watching this they will want to know if there is the capacity for financial assistance if that occurs; or are we in the financial position in our nation where that is just not a possibility and they will just go broke?

Ms Madden —As I mentioned, at the various levels of this incident plan are triggered actions. Under the planning document there is a particular chapter relating to industry support. It does allow, in consultation with the state and territory CEOs of tourism bodies, that consideration be given to mechanisms that may be suitable to meet industry needs. I will point out, though, that we have no new allocation of financial resources for this and, as I mentioned at the outset, there is a range of business materials and information resources already arranged and developed for support, which we are trying to promulgate in the tourism industry at this point.

Senator JOYCE —Is there anything further in your budget that is of assistance to deal with ramifications from swine flu? Are there any provisions for assistance, greater monitoring or anything that deals with the issue at hand?

Ms Madden —Yes. This is a mechanism to provide advice to the government about what may be required. It does not come with any new resources. Should the situation evolve to that level there is a mechanism here for tourism bodies, including the state and territory bodies—for example, the Queensland Tourism Authority—to give advice to government about actions, including what new resources may need to be allocated. That is set out in the industry support chapter that I have mentioned.

Senator JOYCE —Has your department made any inquiry as to whether there is the capacity for those resources to be made available? We know the extent of debt that we have currently. Certainly the states are in a world of trouble. Is there capacity to borrow any further money to provide any sort of outcome?

Mr Buckley —That is a Treasury budget matter. It is not a tourism question.

Senator JOYCE —We will go to the next issue.

Mr Pierce —Given the contingent nature of these sorts of events, I would not have expected there to be allocated amounts for that to a line agency such as this. If it were to exist it would be held centrally for swine flu, in this particular case, or for whatever the event may be. That is how state government budgets deal with it and I expect the same would be the case here. I would not expect a line agency to have such a contingent amount.

Senator JOYCE —We will go to the next issue, the emissions trading scheme. Will that affect aviation fuel?

Senator Sherry —I think that is a matter for transport.

Senator JOYCE —It is a matter for tourism.

Senator Sherry —Indirectly it may be, but the impact on—

Senator JOYCE —The direct impacts are closing down flights, which they have suggested they will do. Have you done any modelling on what will happen to tourism in the event of certain regional flights being closed down because of the increase in fuel prices? That will exacerbate the current global financial crisis and will bring about, obviously, a loss of tourism income to certain regional areas along the coast of Queensland specifically.

Ms Madden —No, we have not done such modelling.

Senator JOYCE —Are you aware—I am, through inquiries that have been held here—that certain regional airlines have said that if the price of fuel goes up they certainly will be doing a cost shift and certain flights to certain areas will get closed down?

Senator Sherry —That is your assertion.

Senator JOYCE —No, it is not. It is actually the evidence.

Senator Sherry —It is your assertion. The witness has already indicated that she is not aware of any study. I do not know about other witnesses being aware of any other studies, but Ms Madden has clearly indicated that she is not aware of the study. How could she possibly be aware of the conclusions that you are reaching as part of your question?

Senator JOYCE —There was evidence given by Virgin Airlines in the fuel and energy inquiry, so I am telling you that that is the case.

Senator Sherry —This is not the inquiry into fuel prices with Virgin Airlines appearing as a witness.

Senator JOYCE —Will the closure of flights to certain areas have any effect on the tourism industry?

CHAIR —That is very hypothetical.

Senator JOYCE —Are you vulnerable to a restriction in flights to certain regional areas in the tourism industry?

Mr Clarke —Aviation is obviously a critical part of the tourism sector.

Senator JOYCE —What portion of the tourism industry has aviation as its delivery mechanism of tourists?

Ms Madden —Ninety-nine percent of international visitors arrive by air. The international visitation, though, is only a small proportion of the total tourism. Domestic tourism accounts for 74 per cent.

Senator JOYCE —Of the 74 per cent of domestic tourism to areas such as North Queensland, how many arrive by air?

Ms Madden —I do not have that breakdown available, I am sorry.

Senator Sherry —We will take it on notice.

Senator JOYCE —You will take that on notice.

Senator Sherry —We might include Tasmania in there as well, if you do not mind.

Senator JOYCE —Absolutely. I will take Tasmania.

Senator Sherry —And boat arrivals. We are happy to take that on notice as well.

Senator JOYCE —Can we have on notice how much arrives via air to Tasmania, North Queensland, the Gold Coast, the Northern Territory, Kakadu and Alice Springs?

Senator Sherry —Any other regional centres? South Australia? Perth? Why don’t we give you a comprehensive list? I am happy to take it on notice and we will give you a comprehensive list.

Senator JOYCE —Let us start with those.

Senator RONALDSON —Do Perth and Adelaide think they are regional centres, by the way?

Senator JOYCE —We can start with those.

Senator Sherry —Let me correct the record here. Senator Joyce asked about regional and I indicated we were happy to provide all-encompassing information on regional travel. Perth—

Senator JOYCE —I suggested regional. He suggested Tasmania. I said, ‘Tasmania is regional?’

Senator Sherry —And we will add Perth, South Australia and regional travel in each of those states, if that is what you want and get the information for you. I am happy to oblige.

Senator JOYCE —Is your department intending to do any study on what the implications are of an increase in cost, due to the emissions trading scheme, of aviation fuel and how that will affect tourism in Australia?

Mr Clarke —No. We do not undertake separate sectoral modelling for CPRS impacts.

Senator JOYCE —Why not?

Mr Clarke —It is the same answer as I gave you in regard to the resources sector.

Senator JOYCE —It is absolutely vital to what is happening in your industry.

Mr Clarke —That part of the policy process is undertaken by the Department of Climate Change and Treasury.

Senator JOYCE —Have you asked them to do some for you?

Mr Clarke —No.

Senator JOYCE —Would you consider asking them?

CHAIR —Senator Joyce, the department has answered your question.

Senator Sherry —We will take it on notice.

Senator JOYCE —They said they have not asked. We have that on the record. I said, ‘Would you consider asking them?’ The minister said that they would take that on notice. I did not think it was such a difficult question.

CHAIR —Let us move on. We have a long list of senators waiting.

Senator JOYCE —I want you to get back to me about what the implications are of the ETS in the tourism industry.

CHAIR —We will go to Senator Eggleston next.

Senator EGGLESTON —I was wondering about the impact not of the CPRS but of the GFC on tourism to Australia. I noticed today that there was an Asian airline offering a $700 return fare from London to Perth. Have any airlines ceased operating into Perth as a result of the global financial crisis?

Mr Buckley —I cannot answer that off the top of my head, but I can certainly take it on notice. I will review that. I am not aware of any. There have been some changes around the Perth access, but I cannot tell you—

Senator Sherry —We might be able to give you some information about the impact of the GFC relative to other countries.

Senator EGGLESTON —That would be interesting. I wondered whether we have seen reduced frequency of arrival of various airlines in this country and if that could be related to the GFC, or in terms of capacity?

Mr Buckley —Certainly I can talk to you about the broader impact for Australia. The year ended March 2009 inbound arrival number was minus two per cent compared with the previous 12 months. However, you do need to put that into context. In my belief that is a relatively good result given the significant downturn for some of the competitor destinations. We have a decrease of something like nine per cent in New Zealand, a double-digit decrease into Hawaii and nine per cent down in Canada. All of those markets are affected by the global economic situation. Australia is performing reasonably well in such tough economic conditions.

Senator EGGLESTON —What about the Japanese market? Is that still declining?

Mr Buckley —The Japanese market is certainly down. However, what you need to understand is that the overall outbound market out of Japan is down substantially as well. We are part of that overall outbound decrease in Japan. I think the number that we were talking about for Japan—and I can be corrected if I am wrong—was something like a 27 per cent decrease going into Japan. Those are the sorts of numbers that are now in the global tourism environment.

Senator EGGLESTON —I would also like to ask you about the tourism campaign around the film Australia. I believe you launched this campaign late in 2008. We have talked about it in previous estimates.

Mr Buckley —Yes.

Senator EGGLESTON —It was said to be a transition campaign between the ‘Where the bloody hell are you?’ campaign and another as yet undefined campaign. What amount has been spent on the movie Australia campaign to this point in time?

Mr Buckley —We have a broad number of $40 million which we have spent on the campaign. That covers both promotion as well as PR activity and so on. It is a whole-of-marketing figure.

Senator EGGLESTON —Has that been spent in any specific countries?

Mr Buckley —We have rolled out the campaign in 20 countries around the world. The movie itself has gone into 70 countries and we have undertaken a whole range of initiatives leveraging off the movie but also taking the Come Walkabout campaign to those 20 countries.

Senator EGGLESTON —Where have you concentrated? Have you concentrated on the United States and Japan, for example?

Mr Buckley —Yes. The major markets are where a significant amount of the consumer dollars are focused. We do both consumer marketing and trade marketing. It is always a combination. The more significant inbound markets are where we focus our more significant consumer dollars.

Senator EGGLESTON —You must obviously have KPIs that you assess a campaign like this against. I just wondered how this campaign has measured up against the ‘Where the bloody hell are you?’ campaign?

Mr Buckley —I can certainly give you some numbers in terms of where the Come Walkabout campaign is up to now. It is still ongoing. We are only part way through the rollout process. The campaign itself has reached more than 155 million people around the world. As I said, it was a campaign in 20 countries across the globe. In terms of support, it has a record number of partners involved in it. Something like 130 industry partners are partnering with us on the campaign across the globe, so it is unprecedented in terms of the level of support for the campaign. For me, the more important thing is whether it has shifted the consumer, and the answer is yes. We do brand tracking across the globe. What we are seeing is an increase in intention to visit in the next 12 months. Around 22 per cent of our target market is seriously considering visiting Australia in the next 12 months. That is a 47 per cent increase in the intention to visit. From our perspective the campaign is working and working very well.

Senator EGGLESTON —What is the target market that you referred to?

Mr Buckley —It is a psychographic segmentation of the long-haul travellers. We are looking for what we call experience seekers. We have done a lot of research in identifying a subgroup of the long-haul travellers that, as the name suggests, are looking for experiences rather than a more passive approach to travel. What we do know about that target market is that it covers all the major demographic groups, but importantly what they are doing is looking for experiences. They do spend more money than the average visitor. They stay longer than the average visitor. They also disburse more greatly than the average visitor. That is our target market, which we have identified through research across all of our major inbound markets.

Senator EGGLESTON —Do they come from a particular segment of the world—Middle Europe, Japan or North America?

Mr Buckley —We have identified large groups in every one of those markets. We are talking about multimillions in every one of our major markets. We are very confident that that can help deliver the increase in yield and visitation that Australia is looking for.

Senator EGGLESTON —You talked about the Come Walkabout campaign. Is that the Australia campaign under another name or is this the successor to the Australia campaign?

Mr Buckley —No, it is a combination. We had a two-part strategy for our campaign. One is to leverage off the movie itself, with a whole range of promotional materials.

CHAIR —Senators, please do not talk across the table. I cannot hear Mr Buckley’s response.

Mr Buckley —The second component of the campaign was a more traditional TV advertising, print, PR and digital campaign, which has been labelled Come Walkabout, but it is our current transition campaign.

Senator EGGLESTON —The Pacific route is very important to Qantas and United Airlines—it has been a bit of a cartel—but now you have Virgin on that route, have you not?

Mr Buckley —Yes.

Senator Sherry —Chair, I cannot hear some of these important questions.

CHAIR —Yes. It is very difficult and it is very disconcerting for the witnesses

Senator Sherry —Mr Buckley is outlining the relative success in attracting visitors to Australia in these difficult times. I think he should be accorded some respect by senators.

Senator EGGLESTON —The impact of Virgin on the Pacific route?

Mr Buckley —Virgin has entered on to the Pacific route at a really challenging time for global tourism.

Senator EGGLESTON —Are their fares much cheaper?

Mr Buckley —What we have seen is a really strong price stimulation by both Qantas and Virgin. There is a third carrier scheduled to enter on to the route in July this year, which is Delta. Again, they have very good prices out in the market.

Senator EGGLESTON —Did Delta come to Australia previously?

Mr Buckley —No, Continental did.

Senator EGGLESTON —Have Pacific route fares dropped with competition?

Mr Buckley —We are seeing a lot of price stimulation at the moment, yes. If you took them over average—I have not done the numbers—yes, they are stimulating interest.

Senator EGGLESTON —Are we seeing an increase in people coming across the Pacific with the lower fares?

Mr Buckley —We are certainly seeing the fare take-up. That is in an environment of quite extraordinarily difficult economic times, particularly out of the US market. It has held up remarkably well when you think about the state of the economy, but it is hard to differentiate just what role those prices are playing. They are certainly helping to fill the planes.

Senator BUSHBY —I think Ms Madden mentioned that the NTIRP had been upgraded, or were you talking about the health incident plan?

Ms Madden —I was referring to health, but it is true that the NTIRP has also been upgraded.

Senator BUSHBY —What level is that at at the moment?

Ms Madden —The current level is amber.

Senator BUSHBY —What does that mean in terms of Tourism’s response?

Mr Tucker —The elevation of the National Tourism Incident Response Plan to the amber level does not change any of the current activities that we are undertaking, which is to develop key messages for dissemination through Tourism Australia’s network, industry associations and so on. It does mean that we engage at a higher level within state and territory tourism organisations. We will now be engaging directly with chief executives of those organisations in the design of those key messages.

Senator BUSHBY —Was the elevation up to amber because of swine flu?

Ms Madden —That is correct.

Senator BUSHBY —I am curious about that. I understand that the government has recently announced that there will be a modern award for restaurant and caterers. That has come about because of the disastrous consequences that would have applied to employment and the viability of businesses in that particular sector. As I understand it, the government has basically acknowledged that and has enabled a special award that will deal with some of the consequences that would have flowed from that. What involvement has the department or Tourism Australia had in negotiating with restaurant and caterers on the degree to which the modern award would have affected that industry?

Ms Madden —The department does have some consultation mechanisms on tourism and employment issues. The Restaurant and Catering Association is represented in that. Since the last time we discussed this we have had a meeting of the tourism and hospitality working group. At that time Restaurant and Catering Australia highlighted its concerns. I believe those concerns are well known to you, including from its submission to the Senate committees. As you alluded to, this matter is the responsibility of the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Education and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Julia Gillard. We understand it was reported on 1 June that Minister Gillard has directed that the Australian Industrial Relations Commission treat restaurants, cafes and catering businesses separately from hotels, which appears to go some way to addressing the concerns raised by the Restaurant and Catering Association, including in some of their discussions with us.

Senator BUSHBY —Are you aware whether the announcement by the Deputy Prime Minister in that regard has actually guaranteed that the issues regarding penalty rates and the other issues that have been raised by the industry will be addressed in that separate award?

Ms Madden —I am not aware. As I mentioned, this is primarily a matter for the Department of Employment, Education and Workplace Relations. It is a very recent announcement, on 1 June, by the Deputy Prime Minister. I would refer you to the department of employment for those details.

Senator BUSHBY —Are there other sectors of the tourism industry that would not be covered by this announcement that have also raised similar concerns about the modern award system and how that may affect their viability and their ability to operate?

Ms Madden —The issue of training, employment and award modernisation touches a broad number of people right across the Australian labour force. Tourism, as a major employer with half a million Australians employed in the sector, does have considerable interest in this and is involved, to some extent, in the discussions around this area. I should note that the issue of skills and labour is one that is coming to the fore in the development of the National Long-Term Tourism Strategy by the government, including consultations that the steering committee is having, which is headed by Margaret Jackson, in relation to tourism and its long-term future and sustainability. Yes, there have been some other issues known to us about labour and employment matters.

Senator BUSHBY —You mentioned the National Long-Term Tourism Strategy. Industry will not necessarily receive the benefits, whatever they may be, of the separate award and have raised that as part of the development of that strategy—that is, tourism operators who would not necessarily be covered by the separate restaurant and catering modern award.

Ms Madden —The work of the strategy is to discuss ways in which the industry, working with government, can maximise its potential and the economic benefit. Naturally, the degree to which the tourism sector can be supported by productive workers in the best environment has been an issue for the steering committee and is an issue being progressed through the government’s development of the strategy through a whole-of-government IDC process. The issues, in the broad, have been discussed. The award modernisation has been most specifically taken forward by the Restaurant and Catering Association in its position papers and submissions to your committees.

Senator BUSHBY —Did the department make any submissions or provide any advice to the government in relation to the impact of modern awards on restaurants and caterers? I am not asking what that advice may have been; but did you provide any advice or make any submissions?

Ms Madden —The department has ongoing consultations on a close working basis with the Department of Employment, Education and Workplace Relations.

Senator BUSHBY —Do I read into that, in the context of ongoing interaction, that the subject was raised?

Ms Madden —The subject has been raised, yes.

CHAIR —Senator Bushby, is that the end of your questions?

Senator BUSHBY —I am happy to hand over to Senator Ronaldson.

CHAIR —Senator Ronaldson.

Senator RONALDSON —Mr Buckley, getting back to what we were talking about before, has your contract been extended past the end of June?

Mr Buckley —No, it has not.

Senator RONALDSON —Is there an end date for the recruitment process?

Mr Buckley —No, I am not aware of an end date being set.

Senator RONALDSON —Mr Clarke, is there a scheduled end to the recruitment process?

Mr Clarke —No, not a scheduled end. But, in recognition that the recruitment process may go beyond the term of Mr Buckley’s contract, the chair has spoken about the possibility of his staying on a temporary basis until recruitment is finished. He will essentially take on the role of executive chair for a short period.

Senator RONALDSON —I was going to ask you about that. Is his remuneration going to be greater as a result of the move from chair to executive chair?

Mr Clarke —I do not know about that. It certainly has not been raised with me or, I would imagine, anyone else in the department.

Senator RONALDSON —Do you know whether it is right that there was an announcement by Mr Hywood to the staff at Tourism Victoria that he was going? Mr Buckley, do you have any knowledge of that?

Mr Buckley —No.

Senator RONALDSON —With the benefit of 15 to 20 minutes, do you have any more information that you want to provide to me in relation to Mr Hywood?

Mr Buckley —No, I do not.

Senator RONALDSON —You will perhaps take on notice, Mr Pierce, whether Mr Allert will be getting higher remuneration as executive chair as opposed to chair.

Mr Pierce —Yes.

CHAIR —Is it very important to Mr Allert whether he gets more money?

Mr Buckley —Can I clarify?

Senator RONALDSON —I do not know whether it is or it is not, but I am certainly interested to know the answer.

Senator Sherry —We will take it on notice.

Senator RONALDSON —I would like to turn to the ‘No Leave, No Life’ campaign and particularly the Iwo Jima parody. With the benefit of hindsight, would you have gone down that path?

Mr Buckley —No, that was really—

Senator RONALDSON —The answer was no?

CHAIR —Mr Buckley, please continue. Have you finished your answer?

Mr Buckley —No. The ‘No Leave, No Life’ imagery was designed to convey a broader message of achievement in winning the work-life battle. That is what it was designed to do and we believe it successfully gets that message across.

Senator RONALDSON —So no regrets in relation to the Iwo Jima monument parody?

Mr Buckley —No.

Senator RONALDSON —Are you aware of the number of people who were killed?

Mr Buckley —I was aware of a very small number of people raising some concerns, yes.

Senator RONALDSON —No, the number of people who were killed around this area at the time. These are actually the people that saved—Australians are not too sure of the history of this, but—

Mr Buckley —From our perspective, the imagery does not mean any disrespect to those who have lost their life in the war. We have made that very clear. It is very distinctly Australian.

Senator RONALDSON —It is not distinctly Australian at all.

Mr Buckley —It is an Australian family with beach umbrellas.

Senator RONALDSON —The Iwo Jima monument was not Australian, was it? It was an American situation, wasn’t it?

Mr Buckley —Iwo Jima was, yes.

Senator RONALDSON —Aren’t they part of the target of your marketing?

Mr Buckley —Not at all. This is a domestic campaign. It is not meant to go anywhere outside Australia. It is a campaign targeted at trying to convince Australians that they should take more of their untaken leave.

Senator RONALDSON —Why would you believe it appropriate to parody a theatre of war where there were extraordinary deaths and casualties? It is pretty tacky.

Mr Buckley —It is not a parody. As I said, it was very much designed to convey that work-life battle idea—no more, no less.

Senator RONALDSON —How can you describe it as not being a parody? Are you saying the two are unrelated, that picture and the Iwo Jima monument? They are not related?

Mr Buckley —I am not making that connection.

Senator RONALDSON —You are not?

Mr Buckley —No.

Senator RONALDSON —I bet you are not. A lot of other people have, haven’t they?

Mr Buckley —No, not a lot of others. Some, very few, as I understand it.

Senator RONALDSON —When you were putting this campaign together what did the Department of Veterans’ Affairs or ex-service organisations say about it when you consulted them?

Mr Buckley —We did not consult them because we did not see any connection.

Senator RONALDSON —You did not consult them at all?

Mr Buckley —No. Not with the Australian Department of Veterans’ Affairs, no.

Senator RONALDSON —Which department did you consult with?

Mr Buckley —We talked with our partners in the industry. We talked with industry, who were trying to bring on board the idea of trying to shift Australians to take more of their untaken leave.

Senator RONALDSON —Did you not think that this might prompt and provoke some of the responses that you have got?

Mr Buckley —No.

Senator RONALDSON —You did not?

Mr Buckley —No.

Senator RONALDSON —You are so completely out of touch that you did not think that this parody of a theatre of war, and what has become to the Americans a great symbol, would cause any offence at all?

Mr Buckley —No, it was not meant to cause—

Senator Sherry —The question has already been answered a number of times. Mr Buckley has made the point there was no parody.

CHAIR —Senator Ronaldson, are you nearly finished?

Senator RONALDSON —There is another side to this. The Japanese are a major market of ours, are they not?

Mr Buckley —This is not going into any international market.

Senator JOYCE —What about the 18,000 Japanese—

CHAIR —Senator Joyce, you do not have the call. Senator Ronaldson, you indicated five minutes, which you have now exceeded, and other senators are waiting.

Senator RONALDSON —I just want to finish off on this basis. Was the department or the minister’s office involved in any way in this campaign?

Mr Buckley —Involved in?

Senator RONALDSON —In the campaign or its formulation? Was the department shown a copy of the ad before it was run?

Mr Buckley —I cannot remember the—

Senator RONALDSON —Was the minister’s office provided with a copy?

Mr Buckley —Ultimately, yes. I do not know where in the process.

Senator RONALDSON —Presumably it was prior to it being run?

Mr Buckley —Yes.

CHAIR —Senator Birmingham.

Senator RONALDSON —Sorry, Madam Chair. The department was involved and saw this ad before—

Mr Pierce —No, Senator. It is not the sort of thing that comes to the department. Marketing is not the sort of expertise—

Senator RONALDSON —Mr Buckley said it was. You are saying you did not?

Mr Pierce —No, he did not.

Mr Buckley —No, it did not provide advice on the marketing side. But we do as a matter of courtesy show the department and the minister what we intend to market. Yes, we do.

Senator RONALDSON —So the department has seen it?

Ms Madden —No, we did not see the images that you are referring to before release.

Senator RONALDSON —Ms Madden, I am not surprised that you are running away from this at a million miles an hour.

Ms Madden —I am just clarifying for the record.

Senator RONALDSON —Mr Buckley, why are you right and is Ms Madden wrong? Or, Ms Madden, why are you right and why is Mr Buckley wrong in relation to who saw this? One of you is right.

Senator Sherry —Mr Buckley said ‘provided’. That does not necessarily mean the witnesses here actually looked at it.

Senator RONALDSON —Come on!

Senator Sherry —No, seriously, we are all—

Senator RONALDSON —It was tucked away in a secret envelope, was it, not to be opened until shown for the first time on TV?

Senator Sherry —You and I both know that on many occasions in our parliamentary lives we are provided with discs and viewing opportunities for a whole range of things. I have to say most of them I do not look at.

Senator RONALDSON —I cannot imagine one tourism minister who would not have had their hands all over this prior to it being run, and I cannot imagine that the department did not get a copy of this without looking at it. That absolutely beggars belief.

Senator Sherry —The officers in the department can indicate whether, firstly, they received the copy and viewed it. The second issue is whether the minister received it and looked at it. That is a separate question.

Ms Madden —As Mr Buckley has noted, the department and Tourism Australia work closely together, but the department does not give advice to Tourism Australia about its marketing campaign. Therefore, we did not see the images you were discussing before they were publicly released.

Senator RONALDSON —You did not see the ad?

Ms Madden —No, not before it was released.

Senator RONALDSON —Mr Buckley said you did.

Ms Madden —No, he said the department did not provide marketing—

Senator Sherry —‘Provided a copy.’ You keep putting words into people’s mouths that are not correct, Senator Ronaldson. You can check the Hansard. Mr Buckley said he provided a copy.

Senator RONALDSON —But you are telling us that you did not see it? You were given a copy. Are you really asking us to believe, given all the publicity over previous ad campaigns and complaints or brickbats or bouquets, depending on what it was, that you did not look at this ad that was delivered to you? You are not seriously suggesting, Minister—

CHAIR —Senator Ronaldson, this question has already been asked and there are other senators waiting to ask questions.

Senator RONALDSON —This is very important, Madam Chair. The minister did not look at a copy of an ad that he was given?

CHAIR —It has already been answered.

Senator Sherry —Can I respond to the question?

CHAIR —Yes, Minister.

Senator Sherry —Firstly, the departmental officials have indicated they did not see what was provided. I will take on notice the question in respect of the minister’s office.

CHAIR —Thank you. Senator Birmingham.

Senator RONALDSON —Do I look as if I still believe in the tooth fairy? Quite frankly, anyone listening to this would not think for one minute that if you were given a copy of it—

Senator PRATT —The Liberal state government in Western Australia did not have a problem.

Senator STERLE —This is absolutely out of order. It is grandstanding.

CHAIR —Thank you, senators. I do not need any assistance. Senator Birmingham.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —Thank you, Chair. Thank you to the witnesses, and particularly to Mr Buckley for your services; you are departing us all. We have very little time left. My understanding is that between the 2006-07 budget and the 2007-08 budget there was a $600,000, or 10 per cent, cut in the funding to Business Events Australia. Is that correct?

Mr Buckley —I would have to take the number on notice. The Business Events budget is complicated in that there is a central business events area that we fund and we also fund business event activity across the globe. We bring those two together to get a total number. I would need to take it on notice.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —Let me help, because you have already taken it on notice once.

Mr Buckley —I gave you the answer.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —In 2007-08 it was $5.737 million. In 2008-09 it was $5.12 million. That is about a $600,000 or slightly more than 10 per cent cut.

Mr Buckley —If that is the number I gave you, then, yes.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —What was the impact of that cut in terms of operations?

Mr Buckley —We would not be able to identify specifics, I suspect, because of the nature of the changing role that Business Events has played from Tourism Australia from 2006-07 to 2007-08. We have done a range of different things in that next year, as we have done a range of different things again this year in terms of campaign development and other things. Again, I can take it on notice and I can give you some further information on the nature of the activity and the outcomes of that activity in each year. That would be the best way to respond.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —Can you provide us with details of the impact of the cut on operations?

Mr Buckley —Yes.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —This was a very poor time to be cutting business events, was it not? Whilst you told Senator Eggleston that numbers of arrivals were down some two per cent, of course numbers in the business event sector for conference arrivals are down six per cent and for business arrivals there is a four per cent decrease. The total arrivals in the business sector are down significantly as well. This was not a good time to be cutting, was it?

Mr Buckley —What you try to do is take advantage of the opportunities as you see them. You put your money where the best return on that investment comes. We are not the only ones who market in the business events. There is a significant number of convention centres and regional organisations that also market in that environment. It is the combination of activity that actually produces the final results.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —Can you guarantee the budget for Business Events Australia for 2009-10?

Mr Buckley —In terms of holding it at the same level as 2008-09? What do you mean by ‘guarantee’?

Senator BIRMINGHAM —Holding it at least at the same level.

Mr Buckley —I cannot guarantee that. As I said, what we do is allocate based on the best return on that investment.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —Business visitors are very high yielding visitors, aren’t they?

Mr Buckley —They certainly are. As you equally pointed out, particularly out of the US and UK-Europe market, it is under a lot of challenge as a sector at the moment, in particular corporate travel. We are seeing good growth out of the incentive market, particularly in the Asian market. We adjust our marketing to try to best leverage the opportunities as we see them.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —I would like to pursue that further, but I will put some questions on notice. In the budget portfolio statements you indicated an increase in revenue from other sources of slightly more than $3 million for the next financial year for cooperative marketing activities. How certain are you of achieving that and what are those sources?

Mr Buckley —We are pretty confident. We had something like 120 partners in our current ‘come walkabout’ campaign and movie campaign. Those partners have been able to stay with us and we anticipate we will be able to grow those. Similarly, the ‘No Leave, No Life’ campaign has a huge number of partners coming on board as well. We are confident.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —That is a pretty significant increase to expect from STOs, other businesses and so on when they are all pushed in their own budgets in these sorts of financial circumstances. It is obviously key to offsetting the near $900,000 cut that the government has given you.

Mr Buckley —There was not a cut of government base allocation. The variation between last year and this year was around a $2 million special allocation in 2008-09 that went to the North Queensland marketing program.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —I would like to be clear in terms of your base budget. With respect to the document tabled in response to Senator Feeney’s questions about Victorian bushfires, was this money from the current financial year or is any of it budgeted for next year in Tourism Australia’s lines?

Mr Buckley —No. The bushfire funding did not come out of Tourism Australia budget at all.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —It is not in your budget at all.

Mr Buckley —The 2008-09 was for North Queensland.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —That is fine. Lastly, in terms of Senator Ronaldson’s questions on ‘No Leave, No Life’, could you provide the committee with a copy of the advertising agency’s brief on that campaign?

Mr Buckley —Yes.

Senator BIRMINGHAM —Thank you.

CHAIR —Senator Pratt.

Senator PRATT —I wanted to ask about the ‘No Leave, No Life’ campaign and the targeting of people to use their accrued annual leave. I understand that in Western Australia we have about 12 million days annual leave accrued. Do you have a sense of the size of the demographic that we are trying to unleash here to encourage people to—

Mr Buckley —We certainly have some numbers overall. I can take on notice and provide you with a further breakdown. We have done a number of surveys and we are benchmarking these numbers. Obviously as part of our KPIs for this marketing we are trying to see a reduction in that untaken leave area, so we are surveying that on a regular basis. I can take that on notice and give you a bit of a breakdown by state. It is 123 million days across Australia at the moment.

Senator PRATT —As I understand it, the WA state government has partnered with the federal department. They do not seem to have had a problem with the ‘No Leave, No Life’ campaign.

Mr Buckley —That is exactly right. They have taken up that whole campaign with some energy and, in fact, are doing a whole range of additional things to try to drive that process.

Senator PRATT —Do they see the ‘No Leave, No Life’ campaign as a complement to the ‘Holiday at Home’ campaign?

Mr Buckley —That is correct; they do. There has been some 93 registrations of further interest on the ‘No Leave, No Life’ website and something like 60 direct discussions with industry partners to come on and partner across the ‘No Leave, No Life’ campaign.

Senator PRATT —In the face of the global recession, where we are seeing dropping international markets, the decision to run with the ‘No Leave, No Life’ campaign would certainly seem tactically like a good approach with respect to encouraging people to unleash that leave, and perhaps taking leave from workforces that might not be as busy as usual. It certainly seems like the right way forward at the moment.

Mr Buckley —The campaigns work in two parts. One is to get corporations/employers on side and working with their employees to encourage them and give them the support they need to take the leave. I think that has been really important. We have had a huge uptake. Something like 320 employers have registered on our website already, including some very big corporations, public sector as well. That has worked on that side. From the employees’ side, obviously, we are looking for that work-life balance.

Senator PRATT —Aren’t we all?

Mr Buckley —Yes. That is a critical issue for Australia.

CHAIR —Senator Abetz.

Senator ABETZ —Mr Pierce, you never knew that tourism could be so much fun, I am sure. In relation to the tourism grants that were recalled—which was a government decision on coming into office and I do not want to traverse the politics of that—I want to traverse the administration of that and the threshold that the department considers needs to be traversed before law firms are appointed to pursue any outstanding grant moneys. Given the time, you can take that on notice. Also, could you indicate to us how much has been spent by the department on legal services in pursuit of these grant moneys? Could you also tell us how many projects had their grants recalled and how many of them have been pursued with the engagement of legal services?

Mr Clarke —I will give you a little bit of information and perhaps some of the detail we will take on notice.

Senator ABETZ —I am very conscious of time.

Mr Clarke —Of course. You are aware that there are two cases currently on hand where the Commonwealth is seeking the return of funds that were originally announced.

Senator ABETZ —Are they both in Tasmania?

Mr Clarke —Yes, they are.

Senator ABETZ —Are they both from the south of the state?

Mr Clarke —You are aware of the two.

Senator ABETZ —Yes, without identifying them.

Mr Clarke —The protocol that the department follows is a Commonwealth protocol; it is not a department specific protocol in terms of the guidelines for undertaking such recoveries. We are happy to take on notice the detail of your question about the expenditures to date in those recoveries.

Senator ABETZ —Thank you very much.

CHAIR —We will now go for a short break until 3.15 pm. I would ask the economics committee to have a short private meeting.

Senator Sherry —Chair, there is one issue that I wanted to deal with.

Mr Clarke —With your permission, Dr Pigram from Geoscience Australia has asked me to correct an answer that he gave just before lunch.

CHAIR —Yes.

Mr Clarke —It was in response to a question from Senator Eggleston regarding industrial action at Geoscience Australia. I am advised that in addition to the lunchtime and other meetings on employees’ own time that Dr Pigram advised there was one instance of a protected industrial action. That was last October. The action involved 105 people and took the form of a four-hour stoppage that resulted in Geoscience Australia docking participants’ pay. I apologise for the need to come back and correct that answer.

CHAIR —I thank the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism and its officers for coming in today.

Proceedings suspended from 3.01 pm to 3.19 pm