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Monday, 7 November 2016
Page: 3057


Ms LANDRY (CapricorniaDeputy Nationals Whip) (16:47): I move:

That this House:

(1) acknowledges the northern Australians working within the tourism industry, which plays a vital role in supporting the northern Australian economy;

(2) recognises that tourist spending provides further opportunities for local small businesses within the community; and

(3) notes that:

(a) the Government is investing in small businesses through its Jobs and Small Business Package released in the 2015 budget; and

(b) this package provides small businesses, including most businesses within the tourism industry, with much needed assistance to grow and create jobs.

The Liberal-National government has, for the past three years, successfully implemented a plan to unlock the future potential of northern Australia. My own electorate of Capricornia is, in fact, both the official gateway and farm gate to northern Australia, but we also have a world-class tourism industry with world-class tourism attractions. Today, I would like to acknowledge the people of northern Australia working in the tourism industry, which plays a vital role in supporting the northern Australian economy, recognise that tourism spending provides further opportunities for small business within our local regional communities and note that the Liberal-National government is investing in small business through it Jobs and Small Business package.

This package provides small business, including most businesses within the tourism industry, with much-needed assistance to grow and create jobs. It allows small business access to a program where they can immediately deduct the purchase of any piece of equipment in their business for items up to the value of $20,000. Small business owners involved in the tourism sector of Capricornia tell me that this particular budget measure has helped them enormously in the area of cash flow and provided the ability to update much-needed equipment, from cafe tables and coffee machines to business vehicles and rural equipment. This has allowed tourism-related businesses to improve their facilities and attract more tourists.

Tourism spending is an important part of the northern Australian economy. In Capricornia, economic and tourism group Capricorn Enterprise identify one of their big branded destinations as the southern Great Barrier Reef. Capricorn Enterprise reports that 94 per cent of visitors to our region are domestic and six per cent are international travellers, which equates to about two million visitors annually. The top five international source countries are the UK, Germany, New Zealand, North America and France. The average spend per visit to Central Queensland is $499. The southern Great Barrier Reef, including Central Queensland, is the fifth-highest visited region in Queensland and the 14th-highest visited region in Australia by domestic visitors.

I would like to take this opportunity to shamelessly tell you more about the great tourism attractions of Capricornia. In northern Capricornia, we have the Pioneer Valley and the beautiful Eungella National Park, which is home to one of the best platypus-viewing areas in the state. Sarina, south of Mackay, is the sugar capital of Capricornia and boasts great beaches and a unique sugar based rum distillery. In western Capricornia, we have outback cattle stays, mining tours and historic towns such as Clermont; while in southern Capricornia, we have Rockhampton and the beautiful Capricorn coast around Byfield, Yeppoon and Emu Park.

A visit to the Capricorn area would not be complete without a stop at the Capricorn Caves. Recently, I had the privilege of officially launching an Australian first at this location, near a town aptly named The Caves. The $300,000 project involved relighting the historic Capricorn limestone caves to provide a more dynamic experience for tourists. Old cave lighting from the 1960s has been replaced with new, leading-edge, solar-powered technology. The Capricorn Caves is now the first cave experience of its type in Australia to run lights on solar power.

The Koorana Crocodile Farm near Emu Park is another world leader, selling crocodile skins overseas to be turned into Gucci handbags. And, of course, one of the jewels in the crown is Great Keppel Island on the Great Barrier Reef. Regrettably, Great Keppel Island has been without a major resort development due to the global financial crisis experienced in the tourism sector in the past decade, but I understand that negotiations continue for new business arrangements that could see construction begin on a $1 billion resort project by the end of next year. Such negotiations could have been made easier if the Queensland Labor government granted a boutique gaming licence to the island that would allow it to attract Asian investors to guarantee construction. Central Queensland needs this resort because, in the long run, it would create up to 1,500 new jobs. This is a testament to the value of tourism in northern Australia.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Hogan ): Is the motion seconded?

Ms Price: I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.