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Wednesday, 1 December 1976
Page: 3039

Mr HOWARD (Bennelong) (Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs) - I move:

(   1 ) That a Select Committee be appointed:

(a)   to examine the significance and potential of tourism in the Australian economy and whether it has special features in comparison with other industries, with particular reference to its effects on:

(i)   employment,

(ii)   balance of payments aspects,

(iii)   the community's knowledge of Australia and the Australian heritage,

(iv)   community health and welfare, and

(v)   regional development and decentralisation;

(b)   to identify the short and long term issues facing the industry in Australia;

(c)   to examine the importance of the various modes of transport in the development of tourism to and within Australia;

(d)   to examine the roles and responsibilities of the Commonwealth, State and local governments and the industry in relation to the development and promotion of tourism;

(e)   to assess the adequacy and the availability of statistical and other information relating to tourism, and

(   f) to report on its investigations into these matters and to recommend action that might be taken by the Commonwealth Government or by the Commonwealth Government in co-operation with State and local governments and the tourist industry to alleviate any problems identified by the committee during the course of its investigations.

(2)   That the committee recognise the responsibility of the States in these matters and seek their co-operation in all relevant aspects.

(3)   That the committee consist of eight members, live to be nominated by the Prime Minister and three to be nominated by the Leader of the Opposition.

(4)   That every nomination of a member of the committee be forthwith notified in writing to the Speaker.

(5)   That the committee elect as Chairman of the committee one of the members nominated by the Prime Minister.

(6)   That the committee elect a Deputy Chairman who shall perform the duties of the Chairman of the committee at any time when the Chairman is not present at a meeting of the committee, and at any time when the Chairman and Deputy Chairman are not present at a meeting of the committee the members present shall elect another member to perform the duties of the Chairman at that meeting.

(7)   That the committee have power to appoint subcommittees consisting of three or more of its members, and to appoint the Chairman of each sub-committee who shall have a casting vote only, and refer to any such subcommittee any matter which the committee is empowered to examine.

(8)   That a majority of the members of a sub-committee constitute a quorum of that sub-committee.

(9)   That members of the committee who are not members of a sub-committee may take part in the public proceedings of that sub-committee but shall not vote or move any motion or constitute a quorum.

(10)   That the committee or any sub-committee have power to send for persons, papers and records.

(11)   That the committee have power to move from place to place.

(12)   That any sub-committee have power to move from place to place, adjourn from time to time and to sit during any sittings or adjournment

(13)   That the committee or any sub-committee have power to authorise publication of any evidence given before it and any document presented to it

(   14) That the committee be provided with necessary staff, facilities and resources.

(   1 5 ) That the committee in selecting particular matters for investigation take account of the investigations of other parliamentary committees and avoid duplication.

(16)   That the committee report as soon as possible and that any member of the committee have power to add a protest or dissent to the committee 's report.

(   1 7 ) That the foregoing provisions of this resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the standing orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the standing orders.

In response to a question from the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) on 4 November 1976 the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) agreed to consider establishing a select committee of the House to look into tourism. Honourable members will be aware that some segments of the tourist industry have been experiencing difficult trading conditions. It is an industry which is particularly susceptible to fluctuations in levels of economic activity. The problems of the industry are exacerbated by the increasing number of Australians travelling overseas. The latest figures available from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicate that during 1975-76 Australians spent $5 19m travelling overseas while overseas visitors spent $255m in Australia. The Government's decision to devalue will, of course, assist in narrowing the gap between travel debits and credits.

The tourist industry is an important industry. It is a significant employer of labour, employing up to 5 per cent of the work force. It is important to State economies, particularly Tasmania and Queensland. It is the life blood of some regions. The Gold Coast and the Snowy Mountains are but 2 examples of this. Tourism has important social implications. It is a means by which Australians as well as overseas visitors can learn more about our country and our heritage. It is a worthwhile means of using increasing hours of leisure. In short, the many facets of this important and growing industry contribute to the Australian economy through: Urban and rural development; decentralisation; new and expanded employment outlets; contribution to foreign exchange earnings; avenues for profitable short and long term investment; a contribution to education; new avenues for improving community health and welfare, both physical and mental; a deeper understanding of different cultural standards and community attitudes; and a wider base for international understanding and goodwill. It is against this background that the Government has decided to establish a select committee to inquire into the industry. Acting on behalf of the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Cotton), I have put down the terms of reference.

The terms of reference are broad and the task is of some magnitude. It is difficult therefore to set a firm deadline for the committee to complete its inquiries and prepare a report. However, I am sure we can rely on the enthusiasm of the members of the committee to complete their task as quickly as possible. Because of the involvement of Commonwealth, State and local governments in tourism, specific mention has been made in the terms of reference of the responsibilities of the 3 levels of government. Honourable members may know that last September the Minister for Industry and Commerce appointed a Government Members Committee on Tourism under the chairmanship of Senator Rae. This Committee has been working most diligently and has received many submissions. Its report is due to be completed before the end of the year. I feel sure that its findings will be of interest and of considerable use to the select committee. I commend the motion to the House.

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