Interview with Iskhandar Razak, ABC News Breakfast

  • Transcript
Subjects: Tourism and aviation support package, Support for the tourism sector, Border closures, COVID-19 vaccine rollout, Karen Andrews, New Cabinet taskforce.
31 March 2021

Iskhandar Razak: Here to talk about it is the Trade and Tourism Minister Dan Tehan. Dan Tehan, good morning to you.

Dan Tehan: Morning, Isk. How are you?

Razak: Very well, thank you. The outbreaks and lockdowns that we’re seeing in Brisbane were always going to be a threat. Considering that, wouldn’t it have been better to keep JobKeeper, keep JobSeeker, or introduce something more directly for tourism operators, than have a reduced ticket sale that may see plans cancelled?

Tehan: Well, it’s part of a $1.2 billion aviation package, and what I’m asking is all Australians to remember to support the tourism industry over the coming months. Obviously, we’ve got the lockdown in Brisbane at the moment, but there are other wonderful destinations that you can travel to over this Easter school holiday period and June, July, August, September, and, that’s what we’re asking Australians to do. And, we’re sure that this lockdown that’s occurring in Brisbane will only be temporary and we’ll still be able to have Australians travel to Queensland to support the tourism industry there. So, what I’d ask is that tickets go on sale tonight, all Australians have a look and see what wonderful destinations are on offer, and remember, the airlines are also backing and supporting this by putting their own sales in place. So, there’s wonderful opportunities there for you to get discount airfares, and then when you get your discount airfare, the money you save, make sure you spend it on the wonderful attraction, on going out to a restaurant, a club or a pub, because that is how you will support our tourism industry over these coming months.

Razak: I understand that there are 13, I think, sites across the nation, but there’s no guarantee that there won’t be another snap lockdown in Queensland, or WA, or anywhere really. So, how confident can people be? There’s no certainty, so people may not take up this scheme at all.

Tehan: Well, there will be flexibility, as there always is, being offered by our airlines, and they understand also that there is things like happening in Brisbane at the moment can occur. But, part of this is giving people the confidence to travel again. We’ve got to remember, we’ve got the vaccine being rolled out at the moment and our hope is that that will continue at pace, and we’re asking all states and territories to make sure they’re using all the vaccines that they have at the moment, rolling that out, because that’s incredibly important. So, we’ve got the vaccines being rolled out at the moment. So, we want people to have the confidence to be able to travel and we want people not only to have the confidence to travel, but when they do travel, make sure you put your hand in your pocket, dig deep and spend deep, because that’s the best way you can support our tourism industry. So, go on that holiday, get one of the discount airfares that are available, and then on the money you’re saving, make sure you shout yourself a really good time, because that’s the best way to support our tourism industry.

Razak: Well, Minister, on vaccines, you mentioned it there, we’ve fallen well short of the hope, the target of four million vaccinations across the nation. Wouldn’t it have been better to refocus all of our efforts, all of our money, in ensuring the vaccination program hits its targets, and then delay this scheme? What’s the problem with focusing on vaccinations that will then help the trade and tourism sectors, before this scheme even comes into play?

Tehan: Well, our biggest issue with the vaccines at the moment is to make sure that the states and territories rollout the supply of the vaccines that they have, and what we need is them to really focus on making sure that all the vaccines that they’re holding are administered. And, one of the things we want to be very clear on is that we have the supplies for the second jab. So, we need the states and territories to be rolling out the vaccines and making sure that all the numbers, that all the stockpiles that they’ve got, are being administered to people, and especially to those vulnerable groups. So, the vaccine rollout should be continuing at pace, and in the meantime, we want to be giving people the confidence to travel. And, when you do travel, remember, put your hand in your pocket and spend up big when you’re doing it.

Razak: If we can move onto some of the other stories we’re following today. Your colleague, the new Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews, she’s strenuously denying bullying allegations reported in the newspapers this morning. But, really, why do we keep on seeing stories like this every week, every day, we see another kind of story about workplace culture. Why does it keep happening and what does this say about workplace culture in Canberra?

Tehan: Well, as you know, the Federal Government is taking this issue very seriously, and we’ve put in place a number of measures to make sure that we deal with these workplace cultural issues, and we’ll continue to do this. There’s been a complaints mechanism, a confidential complaints mechanism, which has been set up to look at issues around workplace bullying and other matters, and we’ll continue to do all we can to make this place, Federal Parliament, an exemplar when it comes to workplace culture, and that’s the mission that we’ve set on. It’s going to require all political parties to cooperate together to make sure that Parliament House becomes a model when it comes to workplaces right across this nation.

Razak: Dan Tehan, super quickly, the new portfolios. There’s a Cabinet taskforce to deal with these workplace issues, put women in the focus. The Cabinet taskforce, chaired by Scott Morrison and the Defence Minister, no, Marise Payne — pardon me — Woman’s Minister, can you give me a real-world example of how this will change your job as a Minister? How does this ripple down to you?

Tehan: Well, so, Marise Payne, the Foreign Minister and the Women’s Minister, will be, she will be heading this taskforce with the Prime Minister. What this will be doing is making sure when it comes to policies, that we’re doing everything we can to not only support, for instance, our exporters, but making sure that our policies are influencing women who want to be starting export businesses. So, we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got the policies in place that include supporting women who might want to get in place, start businesses which will export. So, that will be the types of ideas and support that’s coming through. This is already an agenda which is part of other countries. The World Trade Organization are looking at this issue to make sure that we can be helping and supporting women when it comes to starting exporting businesses. So, that’s the type of sort of the practical things that we’ll be considering as part of this new Cabinet process.

Razak: Dan Tehan, thank you very much.

Tehan: Thank you very much, Isk.

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