Tourism Australia

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (18:03): I move:

That the Senate take note of the document.

This document is the Tourism Australia Report for 2010-11. Tourism in Australia at present is suffering from a number of factors, one of which is clearly the high Australian dollar. The tourism industry in North Austra_lia and the north of the state that I represent in this chamber is experiencing particularly difficult times. There are iconic tourism destinations like the Whitsundays, a fabulous area. For those who might be listening, the Whitsundays are better than the Greek Islands for a sailing experience and for the resorts around there. They are slightly off the beaten track but there are good air services into the Hamilton Island airport. But that community is struggling from, as I say, the high Australian dollar. The additional costs of getting to places like that that will be caused by the carbon tax when it is introduced will place yet another burden on a struggling industry.

The Australian government should be doing everything in its power to support places like the Whitsundays, Port Douglas and Cairns, all of which are struggling for the same reasons. Because of the high cost of travel associated by general cost-of-living increaseswhich have been a hallmark of the current governmentthe cost of getting to these places in Australia is far higher than it is for getting to places like Bali, Thailand or Vietnam. This is a real problem, and it is exacerbated by the fact that, under the Gillard government, not only have passport costs gone up for international visitors but things like the carbon tax will put an extra burden on tourism industries which desperately need assistance.

We talk in this chamber quite often, and I notice Senator Carr is a great advocate, a great champion of thisin his own mind at leastof the manufacturing industry. He throws figures like billions of dollars to the manufacturing industry and to the car industryand that is in part something that over the years has been supported by our side of politics. But very little, if anything, goes to support one of the most significant industries in Australiathe tourism industry. The current federal government, and indeed the current Queensland government, seem incapable of devising any sort of program or assistance that would help those industries that are really doing it tough at the present time. The Queensland government is quite incapable of any financial assistance to the tourism industry. The Queensland govern_ment, as anyone who lives in my state of Queensland knows, is absolutely broke. The debt of the Queensland government is reaching the debt levels of the old Labor governments of Hawke and Keating$96 billion. I think the last time I saw it, the debt incurred by the Queensland government was up around $90 billion. The Queensland government has sold everything it could get its hands on but is still what one might call broke. So we cannot expect any help from that direction.

Some of the money that the Gillard government has spent on climate change and on bureaucrats and advertising would have been far better used had it been diverted to assisting the tourism industry in North Queensland and Northern Australia, which is doing it so tough at the moment. I make a plea to the Gillard government, before it is too late, to have another look at the carbon tax. Realise what sort of damage you are doing to Australian industries like aluminium and tourism and have a rethink. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

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