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Tuesday, 4 November 2003
Page: 21919

Mr CIOBO (2:49 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Small Business and Tourism. Is the minister aware of the recent success of the annual Gold Coast Indy car race? How do events like Indy, the Rugby World Cup, the Melbourne Cup and other major sporting and cultural events assist domestic and international tourism?

Mr HOCKEY (Minister for Small Business and Tourism) —I would like to thank the member for Moncrieff for his question. He and all my colleagues are very aware—

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER —Order! I remind all members that should I require any one of them to leave this chamber it will be because they have deliberately asked to be expelled and their electors might like to bear that in mind.

Mr HOCKEY —I am very aware that the horses are in the barrier. The Melbourne Cup is a substantial event that not only attracts tens of thousands of people to Melbourne but, importantly, also is broadcast around the world. In fact, in Hong Kong the only race day of the year that is changed is today, when the races are brought forward from Wednesday to Tuesday so that they can broadcast the Melbourne Cup directly to thousands of people.

Mr Costello —At the Happy Valley Racecourse.

Mr HOCKEY —Yes. That is a clear illustration of how important events are in sending a message to the world that Australia is open for tourism. The member for Moncrieff raises the Indy car festival. I know the member for Moncrieff threw himself into the celebrations around the Indy car festival! It is a substantial event for the Gold Coast. More than 300,000 tickets to the Indy car races were sold this year, and visitors spent an average of $180 per head on the Gold Coast, which is a substantial—

Mr Melham —Did he make the social pages?

Mr HOCKEY —You will be in the obituaries soon, son.

The SPEAKER —I warn the member for Melbourne Ports! He is not in his seat and he makes no effort to abide by the standing orders.

Mr HOCKEY —Couple that with the substantial Rugby World Cup, for which more than 50,000 people travelled to Melbourne last weekend, and we find that events are a substantial form of not just entertainment but investment in infrastructure, investment in jobs and investment in the reputation of the country. Australia is reaping the benefits of that at the moment by holding international events like the Rugby World Cup, the Melbourne Cup and the Indy car festival.