Interview with Jim Wilson, 2GB Drive

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: Snakes, ‘Holiday Here This Year’ tourism campaign, Border closures, Opening of international borders.
04 March 2021

Jim Wilson: Well, this afternoon, we’re all being asked to do our patriotic duty for Australia. No, we don’t have to head to war or ration our food. We’re being asked to go on a holiday. Yes. According to the Tourism Minister Dan Tehan it is our patriotic duty to take some time off work, head away to somewhere in Australia and spend some money. I reckon it’s a terrific idea. It’s a fantastic initiative. And, I’m going to support the Minister on this as well, and he joins me on the line. G’day Minister. Welcome back to Drive.

Dan Tehan: Wonderful to be with you, Jim.

Wilson: Okay. Now, you grew up on the family farm near Mansfield in rural Victoria. Beautiful part of the world. We’ve been following the, well, there’s a red-bellied black snake, Minister, on the loose at Rouse Hill shops here in Sydney, and the snake catchers on his way from Liverpool. What, I know you’re trying to say let’s go on holiday in Australia – red belly blacks, eastern browns, it’s not the greatest ad, Minister.

Tehan: Well, it is. We’ve got wonderful experiences right across our nation, and I remember as a young boy taking on a black snake and it’s something where you need equal bravery and fear to make sure you do it the proper way. Good luck to those snake catchers getting that red-bellied black snake. It is …

Wilson: … They’re pretty timid, though. I think they, in fact there’s, I don’t know if this is – this might be one for our myth busters on a Monday – but there’s some talk that red-bellied black snakes actually get rid of the more poisonous varieties like the browns.

Tehan: There is, and you’ll need to get the snake experts onto it. I always remember, as a child, being told that when it comes to the black snakes, they can bite you but the venom takes a little bit longer to get into you, whereas the brown snake, they won’t be able to get you and get you as deeply, but their venom is more poisonous. Now, I don’t know whether that’s fact or fiction, but we were always brought up to not really approach the snakes, and if you saw them, the best thing to do was to leave them alone …

Wilson: … Okay …

Tehan: … So, hopefully that black snake …

Wilson: … Good advice …

Tehan: … will be able to be dealt with and everyone will be able to get on with their lives.

Wilson: We’ll keep, we’ll go back to Rouse Hill shops very shortly and we’ll get the latest from Amie Meehan. Now, before that, I got to ask you, this tourism push, it’s our patriotic duty, are your words. Take some time off work, head away to somewhere in Australia and spend some money. It’s a fantastic initiative.

Tehan: It is. 660,000 jobs are supported by our tourism industry and, at the moment, people have got a fear of travelling interstate, and it’s not because of the coronavirus. Tourism Australia have done a survey, it’s because they’re worried about state border closures. Well, what we want to do is we want everyone doing their patriotic duty, take that trip, and we need to be saying to state and territory leaders, please keep the borders closed as a last, last resort – use your contact tracing; use your testing. We want everyone to have the confidence to travel again and if they do it, we can give wonderful support to our tourism industry. It needs it. There’s 660,000 jobs that are dependent on it while we’ve got our international borders closed. Now, hopefully, once we get the vaccine rollout done and dusted, we’ll be able to open that international border. But, until then, not only travel, but put your hand in your pocket and spend like you’re overseas, because we’ve got a history of spending more when we’re overseas rather than here so, if we do, that will really help our travel industry.

Wilson: The biggest challenge, though, Minister – and this will be the biggest challenge as Federal Tourism Minister for you – is the states. And, we’ve seen that New South Wales, through Gladys Berejiklian, has shown common sense, kept the borders open. But, is that your biggest concern, that other states will just, at the blink of an eye, will shut their borders, which will mean that your push to actually travel and tour and discover our wonderful country will be squandered?

Tehan: Absolutely, it is and if everyone could follow Gladys’ example that would be a great thing and people would start moving freely, have that confidence to travel. And, I’m catching up with all the state and territory tourism ministers next week and I’m going to put to them that the best thing they could do is have a uniform approach, follow the lead of New South Wales, and that will protect 660,000 jobs right across this great nation and, in particular, jobs in capital cities like in Melbourne, in Brisbane, in Perth, and then enable people to just see the wonderful, wonderful attractions that we’ve got right across this country, you know, including in New South Wales. I remember as a kid going to the Blue Mountains on a family holiday, and it’s just stuck with me for life because we just had such a wonderful time.

Wilson: Well, it’s a beautiful state and so much to see in New South Wales. And, the same goes for around Australia. Your electorate is Warrnambool and Hamilton. I mean, that’s beautiful country, as well. There’s so much to see in this country, we’re blessed.

Tehan: There is. And, look, in my part of the world, you’ve got the Twelve Apostles. You can go to a place called Budj Bim, which has the oldest Indigenous aquaculture site in the world. You can trek the Grampians, which has a wonderful new track that you can camp on and you can walk, and you get some of the most spectacular views across the Western District. But, that’s the same right across Australia and, you know, exploring our backyard, holidaying here has been the campaign that we’re running, and Hamish and Zoe have done a great job with Tourism Australia in promoting it and we want to make sure that everyone gets on board and does their patriotic duty.

Wilson: Will international travel resume this year, Minister, and will we be taking international travellers by, let’s say, September? Is that a possibility?

Tehan: I would love to see that happening, Jim. It would be fantastic. We’ve got to get the vaccine rolled out. If we can get that done successfully by September, October, then I see no reason why we can’t do that. We’re going to look to see whether we can get bubbles open with New Zealand. I’ve also spoken to my Singaporean counterpart. He’s very keen to get something going with Australia and New Zealand. So, there’s a possibility we could get bubbles open before then and then, all going well, we’ll really start to open up towards the end of the year, especially if we can get that vaccine rollout occurring right across the country, and everyone vaccinated by September and October.

Wilson: Well, there’s enough great sights to see in this great country and I think it’s, good on you for this patriotic duty. And, hopefully the state premiers, not the New South Wales Premier, but they heed your advice. It is a great initiative and we’ve got to discover and just celebrate what is a beautiful, beautiful country. Thanks for your time this afternoon, Minister.

Tehan: Please, Jim. And, thanks for your support because you’re absolutely spot on.

Wilson: Good on you. That’s Tourism Minister, Dan Tehan.

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