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Thursday, 8 June 1989
Page: 3657

Senator BJELKE-PETERSEN —I refer the Minister for the Arts, Sport, the Environment, Tourism and Territories to recent reports that show a slump in the growth rate of international travel to Australia. I also point out to the Minister that Queensland is a major popular destination for these international travellers-even though it might not be so good for the Minister-with many flying directly to Queensland through Brisbane. Is the Minister aware of the Government's recent announcement that construction of a new international airport terminal for Brisbane will not be started for at least the next three years? In light of the fact that this industry is Australia's second largest foreign exchange earner and that, due to the economic chaos into which the Government has plunged Australia, it is imperative to continue attracting as many tourists to our shores as possible, has the Minister made any attempt to get the Government to speed up the construction of Brisbane's international airport terminal-for example, by letting the contract out to private enterprise?

Senator RICHARDSON —I am aware that recent tourist figures show a decline. In particular, that decline exists in the markets from the United States and New Zealand. Given that they have been our first and second markets, it is a matter of great concern. There has been a fall-off also in the numbers coming from other destinations, but there is still a 25 per cent increase over the previous 12 months, which is down slightly from the 26 per cent increase in the month before. The honourable senator asks about Brisbane Airport. I am aware that the terminal just constructed at Brisbane Airport cost $650m.

Senator Bjelke-Petersen —That is the domestic one.

Senator RICHARDSON —I know it is a domestic one; I have been there. Given that $650m has been spent at Brisbane Airport in comparatively recent times by the Commonwealth, I think Brisbane and Queensland can say that they have done very well indeed. The question of improvements to the airport in Brisbane has to be a matter of some priority with the Commonwealth, but Brisbane Airport is by no means the only airport where work will be required. The Commonwealth will have to balance up those requirements around Australia. I am sure that, just as with the domestic terminal, improvements will, in the end, be made to the international one.