Northern Australia: Tourism & Small Business

07 November 2016

I rise to enter the debate on the motion moved by the member for Capricornia and

note that it is exactly the same motion moved in the parliament by the former member for Solomon last year.

So, just like most things that this government does, it is not really an original idea, it is just another recycled

measure. It is too lazy to come up with any new initiatives. But I do find it interesting that members of the

government somehow want to be congratulated for their efforts for the tourism sector in Australia. In remarks

today, particularly those regarding the northern Australian economy, we have heard the member for Leichhardt

want praise for his government's achievements, but what he does not reflect on are the cuts that have happened. I

invite the member for Leichhardt to stay to listen and learn a little bit about exactly what his government has done

under his watch, apart from cancelling all funding for domestic tourism marketing, withdrawing our membership

for organisations such as the United Nations World Tourism organization and scrapping tourism grants.

You want to be congratulated for those efforts. The operators in your home town do not think it is great to

scrap tourism grants. One thing that is left out of this motion today is certainty. We know that, as a result of

this government's economic settings and their decisions—particularly around the backpacker tax—which those

opposite are pretending are in isolation, this motion is somehow not connected to what is happening in that sector

in regions like Cairns and Far North Queensland. Last month, an expert from the industry said:

We have got such bad publicity out there at the moment about this backpacker tax, a lesser rate would have

maybe made it more attractive to people who have already booked their flights to New Zealand or to Canada.


That reputation, I really have no idea how long it's going to take us to rebuild that …

No wonder the member for Leichhardt has escaped the chamber today—he does not want to hear the facts.

Representing a region like Cairns, in Far North Queensland, one would think that he would be defending the

new tourism tax that those opposite are so keen to introduce. Today we saw the Tourism and Transport Forum

release their findings and study into what the impact of this new tourism tax will mean. I quote from the TTF:

The Federal Government included the proposed increase in the holiday tax—without any consultation or

forewarning to industry—as part of its revised backpacker tax package.

According to their research, a paltry three per cent of people support any further increases in the holiday tax,

with 29 per cent supporting a lower rate and 19 per cent saying it should be abolished entirely.

So what are the experts saying about this? In the field, what are the tourism operators saying? Today, the TTF

CEO said:

… the Federal Government should simply scrap its decision to increase the holiday tax on travellers and instead

work with industry to make Australia a more competitive destination for visitors.

I remind the chamber that the tourism industry of tropical North Queensland is worth a whopping $4.7 billion

to the local North Queensland economy and supports more than 23½ thousand jobs. We hear a lot of lectures

from that side about lower taxes, but when they come to Canberra, when the rubber hits the road, what do we

find? We see increases in taxation. So I, like the industry, do not support an increase in the passenger movement

levy. I quote from the TTF CEO:

You don't have to be Einstein to work out that if you want to encourage more people to visit your country you

should be reducing the cost of travel not adding to it by hiking the Federal Government's holiday tax.

There were not a lot of lectures today from the government about the tourism industry, because what we are

looking at right here—this week and next week in the Senate—is a massive, new, tourism tax introduced by this

government. I stand by the operators in Queensland and say no to the government's new tourism tax.