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Thursday, 21 June 2001
Page: 28326

Mr SOMLYAY (2:48 PM) —I ask the Minister for Sport and Tourism whether she would inform the House of the recent domestic tourism figures and what these figures reveal about the government's tourism initiatives such as the See Australia campaign. Is the minister aware of any other views expressed on the ABC yesterday in relation to domestic tourism?

Miss JACKIE KELLY (Minister for Sport and Tourism) —I would like to thank the honourable member for Fairfax for his question. In fact, I was in his electorate recently and he took me to the Gympie Show, which is an admirable regional tourism event. At that show I announced $100,000 in funding for the Mary Valley Heritage Railway project, another example of the things that we are doing in regional Australia for tourism. I can understand the member's interest in tourism—his electorate has many tourist attractions. The Labor Party never ask any questions on tourism. In fact, they hardly ever actually talk about tourism, and when they do talk about tourism they get it wrong. On ABC radio yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition said that the travel and tourism industries are suffering because of this government's policies. As the Prime Minister always says, when the opposition claim something—

Mr Howard —You always check it out.

Miss JACKIE KELLY —check the facts. So I checked the facts. I went to the Bureau of Tourism Research and I got the latest statistics. The latest statistics show that domestic visitor nights increased by seven per cent, the biggest increase ever. In addition, that growth in visitor nights has resulted in a 14 per cent increase in domestic tourism expenditure, 58 per cent of which is spent in regional Australia.

This growth is continuing. There is anecdotal evidence coming out of the electorate of the member for Parkes, where the Back of Bourke Exhibition Centre is. Under another program of this government—the Regional Solutions program—we have just invested $500,000 in this project, in addition to money that they have received under my department's Regional Tourism program. Even in an area as remote as Bourke, the Dubbo newspaper has quoted Mr Stuart Johnson, the Manager of the Bourke Visitor Information Centre, as saying that, in the first four months of this year, 4,100 tourists made their way to the visitors centre compared with 3,200 in the same period in 2000. That is a whopping 28 per cent increase in visitors to Bourke. This is further evidence that this government's policies are working for tourism.

We have invested $8 million in the See Australia campaign, with Ernie Dingo out there saying, `Go on, get out there, see Australia.' We have got record funding for the ATC, we have got our Regional Tourism program, we have got extra funding for roads, we have cut company tax, we have cut personal income tax and we have cut petrol excise. Tourism is thriving under the coalition government, and those sitting opposite are constantly engaged in talking down the economy and our intellectual abilities, and now tourism.

I was recently in Queensland for another $8 million investment in tourism by this government: the ATE, which is the Annual Tourism Exchange put on by the federal government's ATC. It is attended by over 1,000 buyers from overseas. They come to Australia to stock up on Australian tourism package deals to go overseas and sell. And Merri Rose, the Queensland tourism minister, is busy talking down tourism. The Queensland minister for tourism has taken a leaf from the book of the Leader of the Opposition, talking down tourism in front of thousands of international buyers. In this week's state Labor government's budget they cut funding to tourism. It is so typical of Labor's hypocrisy. They say one thing in opposition and they do another thing in government.