Thursday, 18 February 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Senator Payne. According to data from the Tourism and Transport Forum, the tourism sector continues to lose approximately $8 billion a month. It is now 38 days until JobKeeper ends. How much longer will the minister make these businesses wait to outline what support the Morrison government will provide once JobKeeper ends?
We have spent some time in the chamber discussing matters relating to tourism and the government's very serious interest in and commitment to the industry, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 impact on the industry. We've spoken about JobKeeper itself and the small business cash payments as well, which have sustained hundreds of thousands of tourism businesses and jobs across Australia. I think—and the feedback that I have heard in regional New South Wales is—that JobKeeper support has been extremely important for the industry during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are also, as I've said before, providing further targeted assistance to help the tourism sector rebound, to support as many jobs as possible. That is in addition to the record funding for Tourism Australia, which I've also spoken about before in the chamber. In terms of our plan to create jobs, to rebuild our economy—including the observations the Leader of the Government in the Senate made earlier in question time—that includes helping to secure the future of Australia's tourism industry. That's why we introduced the Recovery for Regional Tourism Fund, which is about boosting tourism in nine regions heavily reliant on international tourism. It's about delivering those tailored assistance measures to help tourism businesses pivot to the domestic market. Those applications are still open until 30 September. That is a current program. There is $100 million of funding earmarked for tourism infrastructure under the Building Better Regions Fund. That is about supporting the supply of new quality tourism infrastructure to drive that visitation in the regions. We are also providing, through the Regional Recovery Partnerships program, another $100 million of funding there. (Time expired)
The Tourism and Transport Forum also report that over 470,000 direct tourism jobs have already been lost, with modelling suggesting as many as 300,000 more to go when the Morrison government cuts off support. Why is the minister delaying further support when workers are losing their livelihoods right now?
What the government has been focused on and continues to be focused on is those initiatives that I have just described to the chamber. The Relief and Recovery Fund also has components which include a focus on tourism, whether that is conservation work in infrastructure upgrades—I've seen those in place myself, granted myself, in Western Sydney and in the Blue Mountains; fee waivers in marine and national parks; funding allocated to arts related organisations to help these important drivers and contributors to the visitor economy remain open; or funding to the export market development grants recipients, including those in the tourism sector, for the 2019-20 financial year. We are very conscious that JobKeeper has supported a large proportion of the tourism industry and we are considering, as I have said before, the best way we can support economic recovery in the tourism sector when JobKeeper ends at the end of March. (Time expired)
What faith can the thousands of Australians employed in the tourism industry have in a government that can't outline vital support in a pandemic but can find money for sports rorts?
It is really unfortunate that, when the government has worked in good faith with the industry, the sector, across Australia—and we are well aware of their concerns in relation to JobKeeper, but that good faith work has driven our provision of funding for the Regional Recovery Partnerships, the Recovery for Regional Tourism Fund, the work under the Building Better Regions Fund, all of those things, absolutely because of our engagement with the sector. For Senator Brown to say in this place that the government has not done that is false and should not be allowed to stand.