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Thursday, 6 May 1993
Page: 270

Senator IAN MACDONALD (3.53 p.m.) —I rise to speak on the correction to the Australian Tourism Commission report. I do so simply to support the call of my colleague Senator Bjelke-Petersen for urgent attention to be given to the state of the international airport at Brisbane. As Senator Bjelke-Petersen has said, and as has been reported fairly widely in the Queensland press, the current facilities are a disgrace—and for Australia's premier tourist State, that is simply not good enough.

  When we talk about tourism matters, I always indicate with some pride that the airport at Cairns in Far North Queensland is a great example of what can be done when local people are given the opportunity to direct how an international airport should be built and operated. Indeed, the international airport at Cairns was constructed by the Cairns Port Authority, a semi-government authority made up principally of prominent people in business and government in Cairns. The authority constructed that airport many years ago now and Cairns has not looked back since.

  There has been enormous tangible benefit to Australian tourism from the building of that airport. Cairns is now the tourist gateway to Australia. It has many more international flights than, for example, Adelaide and the number of flights continues to increase all the time. This has occurred because the tourist people in Cairns have supported the airport as well as the other infrastructure and development that needs to be implemented to attract overseas tourists to our land.

  I am aware of the expansion in recent times of activities run by Cairns tourist operators. These are not major corporations but little one-, two- and three-people businesses. These established businesses are now looking to expand their activities. I know of a tourist operator involved in whitewater rafting who is now taking people into New Guinea. He is even going further afield into the Pacific islands. This business, which is all generated from Cairns, is assisted by the fact that the Cairns airport is so good and so popular.

  The tourist area in the city of Cairns has a boom feeling about it. I might say that this tourism capital of Australia would have benefited substantially from the Liberal-National Party proposals for the tourist industry that were put forward in the run-up to the last federal election. It would have benefited quite substantially from the additional money that we would have made available for advertising and promotion, particularly in Europe and America from where we attract a lot of tourists to far North Queensland.

  As I say, I concur with my colleague's remarks about the Brisbane airport. I urge the Government to have a look at this matter and give it a bit of urgency. In looking at ways in which that can progress, the Government should consider what happened in Cairns many years ago and possibly learn something from the advancements that have been made there.