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Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Page: 5270

Mr BALDWIN (Paterson) (21:31): I ask the minister in his capacity as the Minister for Tourism to reconcile these two facts. On page 159 of Tourism Australia's portfolio budget statements 2013-14, under the line-item revenue from government, the amount listed for 2013-14 is $130.4 million. On page 214 of Tourism Australia's portfolio budget statement 2007-08, which was the final budget of the Howard government, revenue from government is listed at $136.3 million. To show Labor's $6.2 million cut to funding for Tourism Australia I seek leave to table the two documents, being page 159 of the portfolio budget statements for 2013-14 and page 214 of the portfolio budget statements for 2007-08.

Leave granted.

Mr BALDWIN: I refer the minister to his media release of 23 May 2013, in which he said that 'funding for Tourism Australia has gone up.' I ask the minister this simple question: is your media release wrong or are the budgeted financial statements you put to the Parliament wrong? You cannot say that funding for Tourism Australia has gone up and then present budget papers to this parliament which show that under Labor funding for Tourism Australia has been slashed by $6.2 million. Which one of your statements is wrong—your media release or your budget papers? I ask the Minister for Tourism to justify Labor's funding cut to Tourism Australia without tricky accounting or laundering the money around the budget.

I would also like the Minister for Tourism to confirm that Tourism Australia has to give back to the department of finance any foreign currency gains greater than one per cent of revenue. I would also like the minister to explain what impact the consumer price index has had on Tourism Australia's purchasing power. Can the minister confirm that in real terms funding for Tourism Australia has dropped by 19 per cent since Labor came to government? How can Labor address these factors by cutting funding for Tourism Australia? Will the minister confirm that under Labor total government spending has gone from $280 billion to $398 billion, and what kind of message does it send to the tourism industry when a government increases its spending by $118 billion only to cut funding for Tourism Australia by $6.2 million? Does the minister agree that on this evidence it appears that while the Gillard government's reckless spending has reached record highs, the cupboard has been bare for the tourism industry.

Can the Minister justify why funding for tourism has been so poorly prioritised by the Rudd-Gillard government? I refer the minister to Labor's 2010 election commitment to spend $10 million each year and $40 million in total on T-Qual grants programs. I draw the minister's attention to page 46 of the portfolio budget statements he has presented to the parliament, and I ask him to confirm that in every year since the 2010 election Labor has spent less than the $10 million it committed to. Will the minister confirm that the Gillard government will deliver less than $25 million of the promised $40 million before the next election?

I refer the minister to Labor's election commitment to give $6 million to the now-abandoned National Long-Term Tourism Strategy. I ask the minister to confirm that his government announced the Long-Term Tourism Strategy on 16 December 2009 and then that it had ceased on 6 December 2011, replaced by Tourism 2020. I ask the minister: does he consider the 721 days this strategy survived as 'long term'? I note a key deliverable listed by the minister's department on page 47 of the portfolio budget statement is:

Engagement with key stakeholders to ensure that tourism interests are taken into account in broader context of Australian Government policy development and implementation …

I therefore ask the minister to explain why his department failed to ensure tourist interests were taken into account when his government increased the passenger movement charge by 45 per cent, hitting inbound tourists with an extra cost on their airfares; introduced the world's biggest carbon tax, which has hit our airlines and our hotels particularly hard and given our overseas competitors a price advantage; and increased tourist visa fees by 53 per cent, placing a further cost burden on tourists? Minister, given these three examples, can you actually name a single policy where tourism interests have been taken into account by this government?

I ask the minister to explain how tourism operators in Australia can have any confidence in Labor's budget, given they will have to pay more tax while Labor increases their business costs and cuts funding for Tourism Australia.