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Tuesday, 20 November 1973
Page: 3545

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - I should like to commence by congratulating the Minister for Tourism and Recreation (Mr Stewart). It has been very rare for me to offer congratulations to a Minister of the Labor Government this year. The Minister administers only a minor portfolio, but I believe he has had his heart in his job. I refer particularly to the sporting and recreation side of his portfolio. I should like to place on. record my appreciation of the action of this Labor Government - it creates a lump in my throat to say it, but it is well deserved - in providing Sim in the Budget for assistance to national amateur sporting associations. Members of the House know that this money is being put forward for the purpose of a fair subsidy for bona fide Australian amateur sportsmen, sportswomen and officials attending national and international events, for assistance with travel costs for overseas sportsmen, sportswomen and coaches who visit Australia on approved tours and for grants towards administrative costs of world championships held in Australia.

I believe that the provision of this money is good because I recall, as the National President of the Federation of Australian Karate Organisations, attending the world championships of karate in Japan 3 years ago. The battle we as members of that team had to go through to raise the air fares was something which had to be experienced to be understood. One felt a sense of shame on arrival in Japan to see the teams from some 41 other countries participating in the championships. There were we, decked out in suits and sports coats facing representatives from the other countries who were dressed up in their national uniforms or in sports coats which had been provided by their country of origin. It has seemed that previously if one did represent Australia overseas the attitude was: 'Do not tell us about it'. If one won fame and glory, the rest of the nation would share in that glory, but that was about the full extent of people's interest. But we have a breakthrough, and I am quite sure that when a Liberal government is returned it will not go back on the initiative which has been commenced by this present Government. I am sincere in my congratulations for what it has done.

I have been reminded that the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr Ruddock) is shortly to make his maiden speech and I have been asked to make my comments short. I shall endeavour to do that but it is a pity because this portfolio, though a minor one, is still an important one. Tourism, or the tourist industry, employs some 10 per cent of the Australian work force, and an industry which, either directly or indirectly, employs 10 per cent of our work force is an important one. But what I fail to see is why government after government, including this new Government, is incapable of putting into practice the fine recommendations that have come from the various organisations which have from time to time brought forward reports and advised them. It is a deplorable situation when the total overseas income from this source is still only $139m. The little island of Jamaica in the Caribbean earns as much as that from tourism. My figures may be incorrect but they will not be too far out. If my memory is correct, Mexico earns $3 billion a year from tourism.

Mr Wentworth - How much?

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) -It earns $3 billion a year. That is a lot more than our $139m. What government after government fails to see is that if we want to come near that figure we have to make it attractive for overseas visitors to come to Australia. In the report that the Minister introduced into the Parliament - it is a considerable report and a lengthy one - he directed attention to the need for internal air fares in Australia to drop so that we can encourage people coming from overseas to get away from Sydney, to look at the outback and to travel north, south and west. We have these recommendations during the debate on these estimates, but a few days ago when we dealt with the estimate for the Department of Civil Aviation, we saw that the Government has introduced increased air charges which has the effect of destroying the market in this country. It is a backward step. I know that the Minister, who is unable to criticise publicly this very fact, must himself see the destructive element in the Budget as it affects his portfolio. Australians are not great travellers. They travel overseas before they see their own country. It is terribly important that some of the recommendations in this report become a reality and not just a continuing pipe dream. They have been a dream for a long time and it is time that somebody did something about them.

In accord with my undertaking, I will conclude, but I do remind the Committee that the Liberal Government actually doubled the number of tourists coming to Australia in the past 5 years. If this rate continues, we can look forward to one million overseas people coming to Australia in the year 1978. It should be more than that if we get off our seats and go out for it. It is terribly important that if we are going to develop this country as an attraction to overseas visitors we develop our facilities. Much as the hotels in Australia might parade themselves as being 4-star hotels etc., the accommodation in this country is, by overseas standards, not very high. To enable a higher standard to be achieved, we must recognise that this is an important industry and make cheaper money available to the industry so that it can build better class accommodation. I conclude with those few remarks. I regret that an important subject is to receive the guillotine treatment or something of that sort tonight, because I am sure the Minister would benefit if he were to be given the advantage of hearing the views of many members of this Parliament.

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