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Monday, 6 December 1999
Page: 12830


Ms GAMBARO (3:47 PM) —I support the motion moved by the member for Cook which seeks the House's support in commending the efforts of the Howard government in ensuring that Australia has a strong tourism industry. The motion also recognises the vital role that tourism plays in generating jobs for Australians as well as much needed foreign earnings. As the motion rightly states, there has been a seven per cent increase in the number of international tourists visiting Australia over the past 12 months. This has been despite the Asian economic crisis that has dampened demand in some of Australia's markets. The previous speakers have also spoken about that.

As with some other export industries, the tourism sector has been quick to respond to changes in the international economic environment. It is good to see that we have gone back to those traditional markets of the United Kingdom and the United States and that this has delivered more tourists from those markets. The industry must be applauded for its adaptability and receptiveness to changing circumstances.

The government has played no small part in this. The announcement in May of a $995 million funding boost to the Australian Tourist Commission for overseas promotion will no doubt play a significant part in maintaining this momentum. The significance of tourism for Australia cannot be underestimated, particularly in my home state of Queensland. For instance, in 1999, 4.2 million international tourists came to Australia, and they spent some $7.8 billion. In terms of jobs, the sector as a whole employs 700,000 people. That is 8.4 per cent of the country's total work force. The member for Cook quoted some of those figures earlier.

But it is domestic tourism that plays a crucial role in Australia's tourism industry. It accounts for three-quarters of all visitor nights and expenditure in Australia, according to the publication Tourism Industry Trends. On Saturday I was very proud to launch on behalf of the Minister for Aged Care a booklet called Get Up and Go. The federal government has spent $100,000 to encourage domestic tourism in the over-65s market. It encourages Australian seniors to travel domestically in Australia, and that market alone accounts for 2.97 million seniors. You can see the boogie board on the front of this booklet. I hope I am as active as that at the age of 65.

Being a Queenslander, I recognise the importance of both foreign and domestic tourism in creating jobs and wealth for the country. I wish to congratulate Club Crocodile, which operates resorts and river cruises in Queensland, for winning a recent Jobs Pathway program. The work that they do in training students in the hospitality industry needs to be applauded. That trend seems to be continuing.

There has been a huge change in the communities that rely on tourism. I have seen that happen in the city of Redcliffe that I represent. The Redcliffe Peninsula used to be the tourism mecca before the Gold Coast took off when people would travel to the peninsula and holiday there. Sutton's Beach was long favoured by Brisbane families as a place to get away and relax with a swim in Moreton Bay, but now it cannot compete with Surfer's Paradise. Tourism had all but died on the Redcliffe Peninsula—until recently.

We now have a world-class jetty, and I am involved at the moment in promoting with the council daytripping to the region. I must commend the regional tourism funding that has been provided for areas such as Redcliffe. The member for Lalor did mention the effect of GST. She did not mention, however, the benefit that visitors to New South Wales and also to Cairns and the Northern Territory will have when the bed tax is removed—the very same bed tax that was introduced by the New South Wales Labor government. That was not mentioned. Clearly it is inequitable when Australians holidaying overseas have to pay for the facilities they use in visiting other countries when international tourists to Australia do not. International tourists should pay for the facilities that they use when they are travelling throughout Australia—the roads and the infrastructure have to be funded from somewhere.

I would like to support the motion further by saying that the federal government's commitment to tourism and sound economic management will make sure that we put in the right conditions so that all of Australia can take advantage of tourism. More jobs and stronger growth mean that more Australians can enjoy our particularly wonderful scenic beauty, and I wish to commend the benefits that it will have for regional Australia, particularly for the electorate of Petrie. I commend this motion to the House. (Time expired)