Thursday, 30 October 2014
Eden-Monaro Electorate: Tourism Forums
On Tuesday, 7 October I co-hosted a tourism forum at the Cooma Council chambers with my colleague Senator Richard Colbeck, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, who was representing the Minister for Trade and Investment. I want to thank the Cooma-Monaro mayor, Dean Lynch, for the venue and thank Snowy Mountains Tourism CEO, Neil Thew, and the chairman, Peter Cochrane, for assisting in gaining a roll-up of over 40 participants. These included the mayor, Dean Lynch, and Cooma Shire Council officers Stephen Molloy and Donna Smith; Bombala mayor, Bob Stewart, and Bombala Council's economic development office, Karen Cash; Snowy River Shire Council mayor, John Cahill, and general manager, Joe Vescio, and councillors Peter Beer and Colin Stewart-Beardsley; Palarang Council mayor, Pete Harrison; and Eurobodalla council's divisional manager, Andrew Greenway. Cooma Chamber of Commerce and Industry was represented by Kath Kelly, and Jindabyne Chamber of Commerce and Industry was represented by Christina Anderson. Among the business operators were Chandra Singh, Brian Coyte, Joe Bird, and Peter Cochran.
We had a robust discussion on the issues facing the tourism sector. If there was one take-home message, it was that the Australian operators face very tough competition from their foreign rivals and red tape, and that all levels of government must work to smooth the way rather than build impediments. Regulation continues to drain away the time and energy of operators, which should be put more towards devoting to their businesses. The impediments to employing people at weekends and on public holidays were raised. There is a big concern that they hold many businesses back. Operators also raised the seemingly out-of-touch culture of the Australian Taxation Office as well as transport issues and access to adequate communication services. I am working with the local community on all these issues.
The very next day, Wednesday, 8 October, I had the pleasure of attending the tourism industry summit organised by Bega Valley Shire Council Mayor Michael Britten in conjunction with Sapphire Coast Tourism. In this case, the government was very ably represented by my colleague the member for Riverina and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance, again formally representing the Minister for Trade and Investment. He spoke about the challenging yet exciting tourism environment, both domestic and international, at the pre-summit networking dinner. As I said, the summit was organised by Bega Valley Mayor Michael Britten, and I congratulate him and his team on putting together a very worthwhile get-together of enthusiastic, expert participants. One was Noel Whittem, manager of the Bundian Way project—a project that promises to deliver just the sort of natural environment project we are looking for. (Time expired)