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Thursday, 20 September 2012
Page: 11485

Mr BALDWIN (Paterson) (09:47): I rise to encourage all members in this place to support World Tourism Day on 27 September. This is an industry that employs one million people throughout the tourism and hospitality sector. 27 September coincides with the next publication of job vacancies in Australia by the ABS, once more drawing attention to Labor's failure to fix tourism's 36,000-worker shortage. Labor's small-scale guest worker scheme neither fills the gap nor helps provide quality service. More needs to be done to help the tourism industry.

When Joe Hockey produced the tourism white paper some 10 years ago, he identified the need to achieve a standard of 'platinum plus' in our tourism industry. Other countries deliver superior service through the practice of tipping and a cultural respect for hospitality as a vocation. The same challenges exist today in addition to our currency disadvantage. There will be a billion tourists who travel internationally this year, and Australia now contributes a record eight million of those. An article one week ago in the online travel press, e-Travel Blackboard, paints a clear picture. It is titled 'Aussies pot of gold for Ireland tourism'. The article highlights that Ireland has experienced a 5.7 per cent increase in Australian visitors for the year, making us the strongest growing market in the country. So, whilst our population is one-third of one per cent of all humanity, living as far from Ireland as you can get, we have become Ireland's seventh largest market overall.

The tragedy of Australian tourism is that the minister has made several attempts to deliver competition. He is constantly let down by his colleagues. For instance, at the Tourism and Transport Forum leaders summit in 2007, Minister Ferguson warned:

Australia relies almost exclusively on air travel … That is why I implore the industry to take hold of the debate before the debate takes hold of you and you are left dealing with the added expense of a carbon tax …

We all know the rest. Further, on 2 March he assured the tourism industry that the government would not put up the passenger movement charge. Now, thanks to 'Wasteful Wayne', Australia has the largest passenger movement charge in the developed world for short-haul flights. Thirdly, Minister Ferguson launched a prospectus to find investors for between 50,000 and 70,000 new beds by 2020. Six days later in the budget, the Treasurer doubled the withholding tax for managed investment trusts, a most common structure for accommodation investments.

In the time remaining, I would like to encourage Minister Ferguson to keep trying. He must not let his team continue to trash our sector. He should start by educating the Treasurer that, taking 18 months to appoint a business to start Cyclone Yasi's tourism infrastructure repairs is far too long. I am sure delegates at tomorrow's United Nations World Tourism Organization conference on emergency management and tourism would agree. Our tourism industry is too important to ignore and neglect. Those one million people who work in the tourism and hospitality sector deserve a better deal from this government.