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Thursday, 28 March 1985
Page: 1062

Mr JULL(10.46) —Madam Deputy Speaker, I take this opportunity to congratulate you on attaining your high position and ask you to extend to Mr Speaker my personal congratulations too on his re-election to that exalted position. While I am not technically making a maiden speech, I certainly am making a maiden speech in terms of the new electorate which I represent. It is an interesting electorate on the outskirts of Brisbane, a microcosm of all the problems that I suppose are faced by all Australians. It is interesting too that the electorate of Fadden holds the distinction of having three different members in three years. The honourable member for Moreton (Mr Donald Cameron), the honourable member for Rankin (Mr Beddall) and I have all represented that constituency, but I can assure the House that I will be the member for a long time and the good folk of Fadden can certainly be made aware of the fact that they will have a long- serving member.

I said that the electorate of Fadden was a microcosm of Australian society because that electorate spreads across the full spectrum of society. In that respect it is a most interesting electorate to represent. I previously represented, in my old seat of Bowman, about one-third of the people who now fall into my new constituency. I suppose it is interesting to come back into this House after an absence of some 20 months or so after a time of refreshment, which I think is necessary at some stage for all members of this Parliament. It is an opportunity for people to go out into the world and find out what the real world is all about. In that respect I have thoroughly enjoyed my enforced exile from the House of Representatives.

It is interesting to go back to 2 March 1976 when I did in fact make my maiden speech to this House. I concluded that speech by saying these words:

As a newly elected member to this House I am fully aware of the position I hold in helping to shape the events of the nation and of society. Already in my brief term of office I have seen situations that reflect little justice for those underprivileged sections of my electorate that cruelly perpetuate depressed environments. They make me realise how we can tend to overexaggerate the benefits of our society. Such situations can very easily emotionally blind wise judgments. I intend to carry out my duties with a feeling of responsibility but with a sense of proportion. I believe one should have a passionate devotion to a cause, but I am aware that unless that passion is guided by a sense of responsibility it can be wasteful and indeed harmful to society.

I said then that I was idealistic but I hoped that my stay in the House would not breed that cynicism which had become prevalent of late. I suppose those words are equally true some nine years later. I suppose too that that is my sense of responsibility and my sense of dedication to the job ahead of me in representing the people of Fadden. There is no doubt that in our society there are some very great worries. In the electorate of Fadden, as across Australia, there is no doubt that the assets test is still causing some very great difficulties for the aged. It is interesting to note that some 50,000 of our aged are now suffering the effects of that assets test. One would hope that the Government would show some more compassion to those people who have worked hard and made sure that they saved for their old age. They should not now be penalised and put in this situation that they face.

There are other areas too. The whole issue of taxation, which is the subject of wide-ranging debate across our society, is another matter which I think is of concern to all Australians, but most particularly to those middle income Australians, the young married couples who have children, who are working hard to make sure that their family receives the best. One hopes that any changes in the taxation system will bring in that sense of equity for those people who are really the backbone of Australia, who are working so hard to bring up their families in an environment which we should all be able to enjoy.

During the last 20 months I have worked in the tourist industry. It was interesting to hear the maiden speeches of the new members of this Parliament because most of them referred to the tourist attractions in their electorates. It is interesting now to reflect on the situation in 1975 in this House, when even the Treasury did not acknowledge tourism as an industry in itself. I am glad that that attitude has changed, inasmuch as there is a recognition abroad in our community that tourism is very much a major industry, an industry which in fact is bigger than the footwear, clothing and motor vehicle industries combined. It is contributing to the gross domestic product as much as the mining industry and is, in fact, fast becoming the greatest employer in this nation.

That latter point is a very salient one because at a time when we are spending some very large amounts of money on Commonwealth employment programs it is interesting to see that it is tourism more than any other industry that has the capacity to provide, and is providing, real jobs rather than artificial jobs in our community. In my home State of Queensland at the moment there are no fewer than 92,000 people working in the tourist industry. That is more than double the figure of just five years ago. That will give honourable members an indication of the potential we have to provide meaningful jobs for the whole spectrum of our society. Jobs for young people, for the old and for women are all in that industry if we get it right. Successive governments, going back to the time when Sir Phillip Lynch was Minister responsible, have gradually been looking at the aspects of tourism which can help in an employment sense. I think this Government should be congratulated for the amount of money it is spending in promoting tourism to Australia. But I also think it should be very careful to get the format right and make sure the money it spends overseas is spent wisely. It will be interesting to see what the real result of the Paul Hogan campaign is when the figures are released a little later this year. It is true that we have spent many millions of dollars in the United States of America on promoting Australia as a destination. It is true that there have been literally hundreds of thousands of inquiries by residents of the United States wanting to visit Australia, but the proof will certainly be in the pudding; the proof will be if those people actually come.

I worry about some of the aspects of the operation of the Australian Tourist Commission because it seems evident to me that maybe we are not really getting the real results we should out of spending so much money on such a campaign. For example, most of that money was spent in the area of California and the rest of the West Coast of the United States. That area has always been a prime tourist market, especially for northern Europe and South America. But if honourable members look at the figures, the biggest potential market Australia has is the central west of the United States. It is there where the biggest money is, it is there where the Australian Tourist Commission is not represented and it is there that we frankly have not spent a brass razoo. I think we should be looking at the operations of the Australian Tourist Commission to make sure we cover all those areas.

If we look at the expenditure pattern of international tourists I wonder whether the Australian Tourist Commission has done the right thing in projecting so much of its concentration into that North American market. The latest figures I have available indicate that the average Australian resident tourist travelling around Australia spends about $34 per head, per day. The New Zealanders are still our biggest market and they spend about $43 per head per day. The Americans come in at $68 per head per day. But if we look at, for example, the Japanese market, the average expenditure of a Japanese tourist in Australia at the moment is $79.91 per head per day.

If one starts looking into the northern European market one sees that the Scandinavians spend $92 per head per day, the Swiss spend $94 per head per day, and the West German tourists spend a massive $136 per head per day while in Australia. Yet, for some reason this year the Australian Tourist Commission has actually cut the amount of money that is being spent on promoting Australia in northern Europe. It is very important that that concentration remain on northern Europe, because it will be northern European tourists who will use very much the infrastructure of the Australian industry. For example, an American who is coming to Australia might have his McDonalds hamburgers and a Coke for lunch. On the other hand, the German would tend to use restaurants for both lunch and dinner. It is in those areas that we do have a very great capacity to employ so many young people today. It is in the hospitality industry and the restaurant and catering industry that so many of those jobs will be provided.

I think it is important that the Australian Tourist Commission get its emphasis right. In my home State of Queensland in the last 12 to 18 months we have seen a massive explosion in the number of Japanese tourists who are coming to Australia. We read regularly in the Press that the Japanese see Australia as one of their prime destinations. It is one of the places that they want to visit. Yet there are some great difficulties because the amount of capacity provided by the international airlines on the Japan-Australia run is limited. Although at the end of this month an additional service will be provided, it will still not be enough to be able to provide the number of seats that are required if we are really going to be involved in that Japanese international tourism market. I think Australia has been wise inasmuch as it has concentrated its efforts in that Japanese market on young people. It is true that the Japanese are probably the hardest tourists to look after. But the young Japanese people now have a knowledge of English. They do not require to go around the countryside in organised groups. The other thing--

Mr Barry Jones —A lot of them come here for honeymoons.

Mr JULL —Many of them come here for honeymoons. That is the point I was going to raise. The Japanese honeymoon market is probably one of the most lucrative that we can get into. According to Japanese tradition, the honeymooners have an obligation to buy a gift for those people who come to their wedding. They usually buy their gifts at their point of destination. So in terms of the souvenir industry in Australia a lot of money is to be made.

We should be making sure that we can provide the capacity for the Japanese to come to Australia-that is, airline seats. If we do not do that we will certainly miss out on a big potential market. I bring that point forward because in recent days the Premier of Queensland, who has just returned from Japan, has made an announcement that he has the application by All Nippon Airways for charter flight rights into north Queensland and Brisbane. One would hope that the Government in its wisdom will see fit to grant those charter rights as soon as possible, because that is a huge market. If one is looking at a return airfare between Australia and Japan of under $500-that is really what the charter market is all about, fixing those fares so that international visitors can come here-I am sure that we will see a massive explosion of the whole tourist industry in north Queensland. I think the Government should be concentrating very closely indeed on that charter concept in this time of talk of deregulation in so many other areas.

Already there has been initial interest in European charter operators coming to Australia providing a fare of about $850 return from Europe. If one lines up that fare against those being offered by the scheduled operators one can see that while the schedule fares remain in place we may not be very competitive. But if we can get those low priced international charter air fares into operation the tyranny of distance, which has for so long been one of the big difficulties in building the international tourist market for Australia, can be overcome. It is a fact that the Europeans and the Japanese are travelling further and further these days to reach their tourist destinations. It is just the cost of the air fare which will stop them coming to Australia.

When we talk about deregulation I must also say that I was very pleased indeed to see that the Minister for Transport and Minister for Aviation (Mr Peter Morris) announced yet another review of the two-airline system in Australia. Despite what Ansett Airlines of Australia and Trans Australia Airlines tell us, this country still has the highest domestic air fare structure in the world. The airlines can argue until they are blue in the face but the plain facts of the situation are that in all the overseas countries so many fares are available which allow tourists to get around that when one stacks up against them the around Australia fare of $800 one sees that the cost of internal travel in Australia, especially for international visitors, is a real deterrent. One would hope for some breaking of the regulated mould that we have now in order to allow real tourist fares, or even charter fares, within Australia to be made available to both the international and domestic markets.

One of my jobs when I was out of this place over the last 20 months was, in fact, to negotiate on international air rights and to have discussions with the domestic airlines regarding the whole situation of rights and fare structures. It was interesting at one stage that the Queensland Tourist and Travel Corporation, where I was working, in fact put together with East West Airlines Ltd a charter air fare from Sydney to the Gold Coast at a cost of $99 return. We put with that a $100 a week accommodation package which meant that people travelling out of Sydney at least could go for a holiday on the Gold Coast for less than $200 for a week. That was very popular until the two major domestic airlines decided to come in on top of East West Airlines and literally knock it off the route. I think that is the sort of situation we have to get over. We can start looking at charter air fares within Australia in the range of, say, $200 from Sydney to Cairns and back, and $250 from Melbourne to Cairns and back, not operating against scheduled services, but operating in off hours purely as tourist charters.

I believe that for the health of the nation, as much as anything else, we should try to encourage people to travel around Australia. In the last two years something like 46 per cent of the population has not been away from home, has not had a holiday. I think we should do whatever we can, not only for the purpose of providing extra employment in the tourist industry but also for the health of people, to encourage people to move around to see what this tremendous country has to offer in terms of tourist attractions. Australia is one of the greatest countries in that respect. Most importantly, we should make sure that we can get some of those people out of the environment which I mentioned in that quotation from the original maiden speech. If we can get that extra 46 per cent of the population to move around we will find, in fact, that many of our unemployment problems will be overcome.

It is interesting that the Bureau of Industry Economics indicates in its figures that every time we have a net increase of 25,000 international visitors to Australia we create another 1,200 jobs. Every time we can get an Australian to go on holidays we can start cranking up that employment generator as well. Every time we can get 230 people to get in their cars, drive across a State border and take a holiday of at least one night we create a job. When we can get that net number increased we will create more jobs. Tourism, more than any other industry in Australia today, has the capacity to be able to provide that long term employment.

I hope that in future Budget considerations the Government will look at not only increasing the amount of money allocated to the Australian Tourist Commission for overseas promotion but also furthering its endeavours in promoting domestic tourism in Australia. Both factors are very real in terms of the employment that they can create in this industry, an industry which is now the second biggest in Queensland. In terms of the amount of money it brought into the State, it beat the sugar industry last year. It is the biggest employer in Queensland. Those figures are certainly starting to be reflected around the other States of Australia. But that is not to say that I am criticising the Government at all. What I am saying is that it should get its priorities right in terms of the money it provides for employment generation and that the tourist industry, more than any other industry, has that capacity to be able to provide so much of that long term employment rather than some of the artificial programs on which millions and millions of dollars are being spent today. I am pleased to see that the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism (Mr John Brown) has come into the House. I am sure that he heard my words of wisdom when he was in his office and had to run to the House to hear exactly what I was going to say.

I think another aspect that we should be looking at is making sure that when the Minister looks, for example, at the operations of the Australian Tourist Commission he makes sure that we have a lean, hard body which has the commercial capacity to get into those overseas market-places and promote Australia in a very real way. My suggestion to the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism who is at the table is simply this: Maybe it is time for the charter of the Australian Tourist Commission to be overhauled and looked at to ensure that when its representatives are overseas promoting Australia they can also deliver the goods. I think the Commission does a pretty good job of straight promotion but in terms of the commercial side, of really putting together the tourist packages to make sure those tourists can get here, I think that under its present charter the ATC is lacking. I think we should perhaps be looking to making it a more commercial entity.

I think it is worth repeating that every time we can get an additional 25,000 international visitors to this country we create another 1,200 jobs. Every time we get an additional 230 people in Australia taking a domestic holiday we have another job up. My only hope is that there will be a realisation in the Government and, indeed, throughout the community that it is the tourist industry more than any other that we must promote. We must make sure that that industry provides jobs for this generation of Australians and for generations to come.