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Thursday, 20 September 1973
Page: 1401

Mr STEWART (Lang) (Minister for Tourism and Recreation) - The honourable member for Paterson (Mr O'Keefe) has raised the subject of tourism in and around the Newcastle area. I thank him for doing this. I suppose that makes me peculiar, being a Minister of the Government, thanking a member of the Australian Country Party for having raised a topic dealing with his Department. I want more honourable members, whether they are on my side of the House or on the other side, to do some hot gospelling on this subject. We have a wonderful country. I am finding that people from all round Australia and members in this House are telling me how much tourist potential there is in their areas. I would be going around Australia faster than the sputnik goes around the world if I were to try to visit all the areas of tourist potential that have been suggested to me. It is my intention and the intention of my Department to visit as many of these areas as possible. The Australian Tourist Commission will also take an active interest in the tourist potential within Australia.

This is the first time in Australia that tourism and the travel industry have been given a portfolio, and it is long overdue. The honourable member for Paterson paid credit to the fact that my Department received a certain amount of money in the last Budget. I am not exactly turning Catherine-wheels over the amount of money my Department received. A lot more money needs to be devoted to tourism and recreation in Australia. But this is a new portfolio and, unfortunately, there are many people in the community who still have to be convinced that there is anything in tourism and travel. I would like to mention that 10 per cent of the workforce is engaged in the tourist and travel industry. It is a decentralised industry, and that is why the honourable member for Paterson is interested in it. He represents an area where decentralisation counts. Sixty per cent of the workforce in the tourist and travel industry are women. Every 25,000 visitors create something like 500 new jobs. About 250 of them are permanent jobs and about 250 are casual jobs.

My Department is still only a small one. I cannot guarantee that officers will be able to visit the honourable member's area in the immediate future. I cannot guarantee that they will be able to visit other areas in the immediate future. In the last Budget the Department received an amount of $250,000 for surveys of tourist potential in tourist regions throughout Australia. It is the intention not only to use that $250,000 to conduct surveys of tourist potential in regions but ako to try to provide some low cost accommodation for the young travellers of Australia. I have no intention of conducting these surveys without the co-operation of the State governments and the industry itself. I do not set myself up as being an expert in deciding whether the Hunter Valley, if I may call it that, is better than the central coast, as perhaps the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) would say, or whether those areas in New South Wales are better than areas in Victoria. I need the help not only of the honourable member for Paterson but also of a lot of other honourable members. The tourist and travel industy is a viable industry. It provides decentralised positions. It brings people to Australia. It makes Australians travel throughout their own country. This creates goodwill and can do nothing but good for the community generally. I thank the honourable member for Paterson for what he has said. I will note his remarks and pass them on to the Department and to the Australian Tourist Commission. As soon as we can get around to looking at the areas he mentioned we will be there.

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