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Monday, 21 February 2011
Page: 820

Mr GEORGANAS (6:59 PM) —I rise to speak against the motion, moved by the member for Paterson. I do so because Australia’s tourism industry continues to enjoy strong support from this government. The tourism industry is a significant part of the Australian economy. It provides jobs in metropolitan areas, regional areas, remote areas and places where people live, including in the Hindmarsh electorate, which I represent.

Many visitors to SA arrive first in my electorate—almost 550,000 domestic and 44,000 international passengers a month pass through Adelaide airport, which is smack bang in the middle of my electorate of Hindmarsh. Visitors to South Australia support 77,000 jobs and contribute $2.3 billion to the South Australian economy.

Glenelg and the coastline from Somerton Park right through to Semaphore South, Tennyson, West Beach and Grange—all those beachside suburbs—all form part of my electorate. Of course, they are Adelaide’s iconic tourism destinations, with visitors making big contributions to the local community.

Glenelg, one particular suburb, is just one example of a number of tourism regions across Australia which are marketed not just by the local businesses but by the local councils, the state tourism organisations and Tourism Australia. It is a region that is supported by the Gillard government’s implementation of the National Long Term Tourism Strategy. This strategy builds on stronger research foundations and it encourages further tourism investment in infrastructure and new products.

Mr Ciobo —How?

Mr GEORGANAS —The member opposite asks, ‘How?’ and we will come to that. Local communities like Glenelg can continue to benefit from the tourism dollar. The Labor government has done its bit by retaining tourism marketing and funding for tourism across Australia across the forward estimates.

But that is not the half of it. Australian governments, excluding local councils, spend more than $500 million annually on tourism marketing. This directly contributes to the strength of our tourism industry, an industry which grew by 3.2 per cent in 2010 to contribute an extra $34 billion to Australia’s GDP. The tourism industry has received direct relief and recovery support as a result of the Queensland floods and cyclone, including an exclusive sector-specific $10 million tourism support package—$5 million has been provided by the federal government and $5 million by the Queensland government.

The majority of the funds will be used to support immediate marketing initiatives to reinforce the message that the majority of Queensland’s iconic tourism destinations are open for business, and to counter negative perceptions resulting from that extensive national and international reporting of the floods and Cyclone Yasi. A proportion will also be spent on industry development measures.

And let us not forget that industry benefits from the extensive Commonwealth government support provided beyond Tourism Australia. This government has committed $660 million to improve workforce skills, education and training. This is an area that was absolutely neglected by the previous government, and this will benefit the 500,500 people directly employed in tourism. The employers in the sector have also benefited from improvements to workplace relations laws. After over 100 years of fragmented workplace relations laws this government has delivered a single national system for around 96 per cent of the private sector, and that includes tourism. That was done by reducing almost 4,000 complex outdated awards into 122 modern instruments. We have provided a net benefit to Australian businesses of around $4.83 billion over the 10 years.

Through our $660 million investment, the Gillard government recognises the tourism industry’s need for a highly skilled and educated workforce. Developing the workforce is at the very heart of this government’s plan to build an economy that will meet the challenges of the future. Skilling the nation’s workforce and addressing any emerging skill shortages are critical to Australia’s prosperity in the long term. That is why this government is boosting the skills of Australians and has embarked on one of the most ambitious reform agendas to reshape the apprentice and training sector. Perhaps we would not be in this position had the former government actually done something about skilling Australia’s workforce.

To achieve this, the government is investing heavily in the skills of the current and future workforce by providing practical help—

Mr Ciobo —Why did you take chefs off the skilled workers list?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms S Bird)—I think the crossbench is being a bit unhelpful.

Mr GEORGANAS —to ensure Australians get the skills that they need for the jobs of tomorrow. Our investment will underwrite our future prosperity as a nation and provide individual Australians with the opportunities to realise their very full potential. This is in stark contrast to the coalition, who for a decade, as I said earlier, failed to invest in the skills that our nation needed. This government is getting on with the job.

Mr Ciobo —Are you still talking about tourism?

Mr GEORGANAS —The member opposite asks if I am talking about the tourism industry. I certainly am. We do not have the skilled workforce to fill positions in those jobs where skills are in short supply because of the neglect of the coalition government over 10 years. The tourism industry also has benefited from the $8.5 billion we have committed for nationally significant transport infrastructure, which feeds into tourism, and the $355 million in funding for rural and remote councils through the Roads to Recovery program, which helps, for example, the 47 million domestic visitors travelling by car and the grey nomads, who spend anywhere between six days and 73 days on the road. By providing this critical infrastructure, which was so neglected by the previous government, we are helping businesses to grow and to recover.

The tourism industry is resilient. Businesses have a profit motive to recover quickly from the likes of floods, cyclones and a whole range of other disasters. So certain business people in the industry are saying that, despite a number of hotels in Brisbane closing following the floods, they expect the market to recover well. The casino in Cairns, restaurants in Townsville and airports and attractions are now open and trading. Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on 8 February show that 2010 was a good year for Australia’s international tourism. The international tourism industry grew, with arrivals growing by 5.4 per cent on the previous year, to a total of 5.9 million in 2010. This positive full-year result was assisted by strong growth in arrivals in December 2010, up 4.4 per cent on the same period in 2009. In 2010 arrivals from China, South Korea and Japan were particularly strong—up 20 per cent from China, up 18.2 per cent from South Korea and up 12 per cent from Japan. So they are all good figures. Continuing to appeal to our international visitors will be particularly important for Australia’s $34 billion tourism industry in 2011, following the negative perceptions created by the floods and Cyclone Yasi.

It is the support for tourism by this Gillard government which delivered Australia the successful Oprah Winfrey visit. By bringing 302 of her audience members to Australia for a week, Oprah Winfrey lifted the profile of Australia in ways that we have not seen before. Audience members visited every state and territory and more than 700 hours of footage was taken to produce four hours of prime time TV. The Oprah show is viewed by 40 million US viewers a week and is broadcast into 145 countries around the world. Before the show was even aired, it had paid for itself many times over, with international coverage from the time the trip was announced totalling more than 3,000 stories, having an equivalent advertising value of just over $20 million, and domestic coverage in Australia exceeding 70,000 stories, valued at more than $140 million.

The Gillard government has provided strong support towards the growth of the Australian tourism industry. It will continue to provide the support the industry needs to remain globally competitive. My electorate, which has suburbs like Glenelg and the beachside suburbs, will benefit greatly from this government’s support of tourism.