Tuesday, 16 October 2018
Western Australia: Tourism
One of my goals in my time as a parliamentarian is to assist with the transformation of Perth to becoming a world-class city—in other words, to take it from dullsville to Perth-fect, a world-class city which is a Perth-fect place to live, work and raise a family, a world-class city that is full of thriving local businesses and that is driving the national economy, and a world-class city with truly spectacular tourist attractions, both natural and built.
Last month, in my first speech, I raised the issue of the decaying East Perth Power Station site. It is embarrassing that the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority has allowed an historic building on prime riverfront land to sit unloved and unused. In my view, the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority should either use it or lose it and hand it over to someone who will take care of that beautiful building and that prime river frontage. Many ideas have been bounced around for this building. It could be a sports museum, a mining museum, or a home for fine arts or performance art. The Sydney Powerhouse Museum and the Brisbane Powerhouse are two fantastic examples of how former power stations can become part of our present and part of our future. Whatever happens, it shouldn't be decaying on the banks of the Swan River. It's disrespectful to the river and it's disrespectful to my community of Perth.
The other thing I believe is that Perth needs to proactively look and host internationally competitive built tourist attractions. I like to say 'world-class, built, family-friend tourist attractions'—in other words, some people call them theme parks. Mickey, Donald and Goofy would all be welcome, as would Marvel's X-Men, Thor and Spiderman. Whatever it is, if we are going to be serious about tourism in Western Australia, we need to make Perth a more family-friendly tourist destination.
One of the great achievements of the Rudd-Gillard government was investment in the Perth City Link project, now known as Yagan Square, which has a beautiful family-friendly playground at the top of it—a $1 billion project. I'll raise a billion dollars to sink a train line just to tell you what else you can do with a billion dollars. Research from Kelly Kaak, a researcher at the University of Central Florida tells us that the cost of Disney California Adventure was only $1.4 billion and had five million visitors in the first year. In other words, there is something worth investigating about having a world-class internationally competitive built family-friendly tourist attraction.
Whatever the case is, when it comes to tourism in Australia, and particularly in Western Australia, we need to think big. I know the Tourism Council of Western Australia have also advocated for built family-friendly tourist attractions, including an Aboriginal cultural centre and a cable car to link Kings Park and the Perth CBD. Western Australia, Perth in particular, has hosted the Commonwealth Games and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2011. But many younger members of the Perth electorate are very excited that this Friday, Perth will host its most important visitor yet, Taylor Swift.
But Western Australia has suffered the tyranny of distance when it comes to tourism policy. As Tay-Tay would say, there is a 'Blank space' in Tourism Australia's approach to WA. The recent Crocodile Dundee campaign featured next to no footage of Western Australia. There was nothing of the Western Australian outback and nothing of Western Australia's Indigenous heritage, nothing from our award-winning South West or Great Southern regions that were so finely on show on Monday night when the member for O'Connor and the member for Burt hosted the Showcase WA event in the Mural Hall. I commend them both and everyone involved, including their staff, for pulling that event together.
But, when you look at the Crocodile Dundee campaign that was run by Tourism Australia, not even a quokka featured. There was nothing from Rottnest Island, a beautiful part of Western Australia, a tourist destination for hundreds of thousands of people every year. And, if anyone needs advice on quokka selfies when they visit the west, I am more than happy to assist, and I am sure the member for Fremantle would be too.
I will conclude on this thought: the Prime Minister has a background in tourism, and some of his colleagues were less than complimentary. I note that Fran Bailey even said:
… sometimes things work out in an organisation, and sometimes they don't. In this case, Scott Morrison didn't work out.
Maybe that's okay when you're heading up a government agency. It's definitely not okay when you are heading up the entire government. Western Australia needs leadership on tourism. We need leadership on built family-friendly tourist attractions. We need a Labor government.