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Wednesday, 19 September 2001
Page: 30987

Mr BEAZLEY (2:12 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Sport and Tourism. I refer to your statement that the Ansett collapse was just `a little blip' for the Australian tourism industry and that the tourism industry was running around like Henny Penny complaining that the sky is falling in. Minister, do you seriously believe that the cancellation of 3,500 beds in Victoria in just one day is a little blip? Why won't you stop the denial, face your responsibilities and follow Steve Bracks's lead by acting now to address the growing tourism crisis?

Mrs Irwin —When are you going back to New Zealand, Jackie?

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Fowler!

Government members interjecting—

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Fowler is warned!

Mrs Gallus —Throw her out.

Mr Tuckey —We never said anything racist.

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Hindmarsh, the Minister for Forestry and Conservation and the Minister for Financial Services and Regulation are all warned! Had the member for Fowler not been provoked as she was, she would have been obliged to excuse herself from the House.

Mr Reith —I ask that the member withdraw the comment.

Mr SPEAKER —The Leader of the House will resume his seat, and I will deal with the matter. I did not hear the comment made by the member for Fowler—

Government members interjecting—

Mr SPEAKER —If those on my right would exercise just a little courtesy to the chair, I might be able to finish my statement. I did not hear the comment made by the member for Fowler. I would expect her, as obliged by the standing orders for members, to withdraw the comment if it was offensive.

Mrs Irwin —Mr Speaker, you were correct: I was provoked. I apologise to the House.

Mr SPEAKER —I thank the member for Fowler.

Mr Andrews —Mr Speaker, I take a point of order under standing order 144 on the question. This style of question which the Leader of the Opposition commenced engaging in yesterday clearly contains debate and clearly contains argument, and it should be ruled out of order.

Mr McMullan —Mr Speaker, on the point of order: the question was a very orthodox question. The compelling part of it was that it quoted the minister. I understand that people might find that derisory or offensive, but it is perfectly within the standing orders.

Mr SPEAKER —The Manager of Opposition Business will not advance an argument. He will address the point of order.

Mr McMullan —The leader has quoted the minister twice. They are outrageous remarks, but they are legitimate quotations.

Mr SPEAKER —The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. The member for Menzies makes a valid point of order. However, this is not a new experience for this House in the last week or even in my speakership. The experience of argument in questions has applied for some time. I will allow the question to stand.

Miss JACKIE KELLY (Minister for Sport and Tourism) —I have waited three years for this: a question on tourism from the ALP.

Honourable members interjecting—

Mr SPEAKER —The same courtesy that I expect to be extended to the member for Fowler, I expect to be extended to the minister.

Miss JACKIE KELLY —Since I have been the minister for tourism, we have seen an incredible time in the tourism industry. We have seen record growth. Last year we saw an excellent year for international tourism.

Mr SPEAKER —The minister will resume her seat. The member for Prospect will excuse herself from the House under the provisions of standing order 304A.

The member for Prospect then left the chamber.

Miss JACKIE KELLY —In one week we have had an airline crash into the World Trade Centre, killing nearly 5,000 people and affecting people's confidence in flying, and we have seen a domestic airline put in the hands of an administrator.

Mr SPEAKER —I warn the Deputy Leader of the Opposition!

Miss JACKIE KELLY —This is a challenge, and the only thing that the ALP can do is run around like Henny Penny saying, `The sky is falling in.' That was my quote. The ALP has nothing to contribute to this debate, except to say, `The sky is falling in. It is a catastrophe; it is cataclysmic, it is devastation.'

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Lyons is warned!

Miss JACKIE KELLY —The tourism industry in Australia is strong; we have strong entrepreneurial people. We came through the Asian crisis, and why? Because this government delivers good economic fundamentals. We just delivered to the Australian people $12 billion worth of tax cuts. We have record low interest rates, which is putting cash in the hip-pockets of Australians. Where are they going to travel? They are going to travel in Australia, except the ALP wants them to stay at home: `There will no flights; you can't afford it; stay home.' In fact, it indulges in a bit of Kiwi bashing, as well—our one bright hope; our leading market. We receive 700,000 tourists a year from New Zealand, and you do not want them to come. That New Zealand market is more important now than ever, and we certainly want them coming here on Air New Zealand or on any airline we can get. Let's get them here; let's get that tourist dollar spent here in Australia. This is not a laughing matter, but it is a laughing matter for the ALP.

Mr SPEAKER —I warn the member for Bass!

Miss JACKIE KELLY —They sit there and laugh. That is their only response. This government in the meantime gets aircraft back in the sky. We have capacity back; we are servicing scheduled routes. Things are happening, and we can come through this with a bit of bipartisan support, with a bit of talking things up. The fundamentals are there. We just need a lot of confidence out there. We need to be saying that Australia is a safe place, that it is a great place to invest and that it is a great time to take a holiday.

Opposition members—More!

Mr SPEAKER —I warn the member for Bendigo!