Interview with Leila McKinnon, Today Show
Leila McKinnon: Let's bring in Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan on the Gold Coast. Minister, another big step. Great news. When do you expect the vaccines to arrive?
Dan Tehan: It is great news, and they'll arrive towards the end of February and we're absolutely on track to roll our vaccine program out. And, I met with the European Union Ambassador last week and he reassured me that the vaccines would be arriving, as they said they would be. It's fantastic to get this extra, further news that that's the case and that the vaccine rollout will take place as scheduled.
McKinnon: So, people will be able to go and actually start getting the jab in just a couple of weeks, really? Before the end of the month?
Tehan: That's right. The countdown has started. We'll be rolling the program out. First, it'll go to the elderly, those people who are on the frontline with our hospital workers, and then in the aged-care facilities, and then get rolled out into the community. So, the Government has planned this. We've put a lot of work into it. We're cooperating with the state and territory governments on the rollout and people can be reassured that our vaccine rollout is on target.
McKinnon: Now, let's look at Melbourne's COVID crisis. And, South Australia has, overnight, shut its border to greater Melbourne. An overreaction?
Tehan: Look, ultimately, each state will make its decisions based on its health advice. But, as Australia's Tourism Minister, I'm here, look at this wonderful Gold Coast, it is a beautiful spot — 666,000 jobs across the nation as a result of our tourism sector, so what we would love to see is snap border closures as a very, very last resort. We've got to be doing everything we can, first of all, to get Australians moving, travelling and taking vacations to support our tourism industry and then, ultimately, successful vaccine rollout here and overseas – get the international tourists back.
McKinnon: Minister, what a tough job you've got there – testing out the tourism industry of Queensland. It's difficult, isn't it?
Tehan: It's been very hard. I've been in Port Douglas, Cairns, Whitsundays and now here on the Gold Coast, so it's a tough job, but I can tell you it's an incredibly serious job as well, because livelihoods depend on our tourism industry. We've got to be doing everything we can to help and support it. We've got the ‘Stay Here and Holiday Here' campaign being rolled out at the moment. If I could say to all Australians, please think about your next holiday at the moment. You're back at work, the kids are back at school, we want you to take a holiday. There's so many wonderful places to go and there is no better time than right now to take that holiday …
McKinnon: … Yep. Well, marketing and raising publicity, that's all good, but is there any financial incentives? Any help you're going to be able to provide?
Tehan: Yeah. So, I'm here on the Gold Coast today. We'll be announcing our Business Events Program – it's a $50 million business events program where we want people to register for business events and, if you do that then we will help towards the cost of that. Business events is a huge part of the tourism sector and we want to make sure people are putting on their business event and we're going to encourage businesses to attend, so we can really start to kickstart that domestic tourism industry.
McKinnon: Dan Tehan, thank you very much.