Thursday, 3 September 2020
Questions without Notice
Northern Territory: Tourism
My question is to Senator Birmingham, the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment. Can the minister please update the Senate on how the Morrison government is investing in Australia's national parks to provide short-term economic stimulus that leaves long-term environmental and economic benefit to industries such as tourism?
I thank Senator McMahon for her question. Indeed, our government is investing a record $233 million in Commonwealth national parks, to maintain their status as global icons of Australia and, importantly, to drive and create job opportunities, especially in the Northern Territory, where our iconic national parks primarily sit.
This $233 million will be provided over three years to support specific projects across Uluru-Kata Tjuta, Booderee National Park and Christmas Island National park, as well as the Australian National Botanic Gardens. These parks, especially those in the Northern Territory, are internationally renowned as key tourism, cultural and ecological destinations. The funding will support critical growth in employment, with the creation of over 1,100 jobs in regional and remote areas as a result of this investment and work.
It will be vital economic stimulus for those communities, providing an opportunity for our national parks, together with local industry and communities, to be revitalised following the COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure that we invest in their strong recovery, to encourage strong tourism visitation to those regions once international travel is available again and to help drive tourism businesses in regional economies there to recover strongly from the heavy impacts. This investment is in addition to the $216 million already committed to growing tourism in Kakadu National Park and the waiving of park entry fees that our government introduced. The work involved will provide an estimated 1,114 jobs—some 564 during the construction phase and a further 550 indirect jobs in manufacturing, hospitality and transport businesses.
We recognise that these parks form the lifeblood of many communities and the lifeblood of the tourism industry in the Northern Territory, and that's why we are investing in the industry and supporting the Territory through these tough times.
Our support for the Northern Territory is strong in delivering support for national parks and through the JobKeeper and JobSeeker programs we are supporting. Indeed, through JobKeeper more than 5,000 organisations in the Northern Territory have received more than $200 million in support and funding to sustain jobs and employment during the pandemic.
Our government has also provided support to individuals and households. Indeed, there is the business support, with more than $180 million paid out in credits across the Territory. Our freight assistance mechanism has helped the Territory by establishing an air bridge between Darwin and Brisbane that can enable necessary freight, be that mud crabs heading into Asia or, soon, in the mango season, when we will see Territory produce headed from Darwin to Brisbane and then on to flights across the region and out into the world, sustaining jobs and exports for Territorians and the Territory.
Around one in 13 Australian jobs depended upon our tourism and hospitality sector as we headed into the pandemic. Sadly, many of those businesses, many of those jobs, have been unavoidable victims of shutdowns and restrictions across the country. But their potential recovery is being hampered and impeded by the disproportionate maintenance of blanket border restrictions across the country. Let me acknowledge, though, the wise words of Mr Albanese on this topic. Back at the time of the debate about Virgin Australia, he said that hundreds of thousands employed in the tourism sector depend upon a viable two-airline industry as an essential component of an effective tourism industry in Australia. Well, what else do you need for a viable tourism industry? You need routes that planes can fly on and states that people can travel between. I would now urge Mr Albanese to lend his voice in support. Don't just leave it to Paul Keating to stand up for the tourism industry or open borders— (Time expired)