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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6457


Mr CIOBO (5:28 PM) —I will ask several questions to take advantage of the opportunity to ask the Minister for Tourism some questions about budget appropriations for the tourism portfolio. I note that, under your stewardship, tourism in Australia has never been at such a low. I ask the minister how he possibly justifies the imposition of $1 billion of new tourism taxes in last year’s federal Labor budget at a time when the tourism industry is doing it so tough. Further to that, I ask the minister how a funding cut of $6.8 million in real terms by the Rudd Labor government since coming to office is going to assist Australia’s tourism industry. In addition I ask the minister if he can confirm that he has axed the Australian Tourism Development Program, at a saving to the government of some $27½ million, and replaced it by media release with the TQUAL program at a cost of around $8½ million. Will the fact that you have axed $27½ million of infrastructure support for the tourism industry and replaced it with a mere $8½ million program over two years simply result in Australian tourism languishing even further? As I said, this is on top of the $1 billion of new taxes that your government has imposed on the industry at a time of crisis for the tourism industry.

Furthermore, I ask the minister, now that it has been 20 months since the Labor Party was elected and it has effectively been 20 months since the Labor Party had any tourism policy at all, if he will confirm to the parliament exactly where things stand with respect to the national long-term tourism strategy. I specifically ask the minister about a number of the comments made that were put forward in the Jackson report. In particular I quote to the minister a part on page 4 of the report which says:

The funding allocation for the Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre … during its first two rounds represented a significant part of the resource base for tourism research. This funding allocation must be retained for tourism research even though the STCRC’s bid for a third round of funding was not successful.

I ask the minister: why is it that your office was unable to confirm to the Gold Coast Bulletin that the STCRC had not been successful in its bid for a third round of funding and yet the Jackson report knew about an unsuccessful bid by the STCRC? Minister, given that about $30 million per annum that was being put into tourism research has now been axed by your government, can you commit to seeing an increase in the budget for tourism research to ensure that an initiative such as that outlined in the Jackson report for something along the lines of the ABARE Outlook Conference, which the report said would be of direct and very significant benefit to small and medium enterprises, is an initiative that you undertake? Further, and importantly, will you also stand by this recommendation in the Jackson report:

The steering committee considers consolidation—

that is, consolidation of tourism research functions—

within a restructured Tourism Australia as its preference.

Is that your preference, Minister, or have you got other preferences as well?