Interview with Lisa Millar, ABC News Breakfast

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: Return of international tourists, border re-opening, vaccination rates, anti-corruption body.
08 February 2022

Lisa Millar: I'm joined now by the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan. Minister, good morning, welcome to News Breakfast.

Dan Tehan: Good morning, Lisa. Wonderful to be with you.

Lisa Millar: Big news for February the 21st – the date set. How long is it going to take for the industry to bounce back?

Dan Tehan: Look, I think it will bounce back quickly. It's, you know, a wonderful country to visit. We've got wonderful attractions. And, of course, Australians are wonderful people, and we'll be rolling out the welcome mat. So, I think, international tourists will be very keen to resume visiting Australia. We've seen it when it comes to international students and backpackers. We've had 28,000 backpackers come to Australia since we said backpackers could come back. Last week alone, 7,000 international students returned to take up their studies here.

So, I think, we'll see international tourism pick up very quickly, and we're ready to go with the marketing campaigns. We've got the money there because, obviously, we've dialled down our marketing through the last two years. So, I think we'll see international tourism resume very, very quickly.

Lisa Millar: How much are you going to have to spend on marketing campaigns? What are you planning? Because other people don't share your optimism – they think it's going to take quite a bit of convincing to get people to head Down Under.

Dan Tehan: Yes, well I'm very optimistic. I can tell you, you look at a wonderful electorate like mine – the Great Ocean Road, the Twelve Apostles, I was down there last week – why wouldn't you want to come to Australia? I can tell you, the people are friendly and the attractions are magnificent.

We're looking at about 7 to $8 million immediately being rolled out. Key markets – North America, the UK and Europe. Obviously, we'll also look at Asia and key markets there. So, we're ready to go. Tourism Australia for the last two years have been making sure that it's presence in our overseas markets has continued, and they're all ready to gear up and gear up very quickly.

Lisa Millar: Why do Australians need three doses – a recommended three doses of a vaccine – and in some cases possibly mandated, but tourists will only need two? Is that going to change?

Dan Tehan: Well, look, the health advice in most countries overseas is that you need to be doubly vaccinated. They're looking – and various countries have various opinions around boosters — so we've – on the health advice and on the Chief Medical Officer's health advice — we've come to the conclusion that double vaxxed is how we should welcome people back. That's the advice that we've had from the Chief Medical Officer…

Lisa Millar: Will it change?

Dan Tehan: At this stage no. We've got very clear advice that double vaxxed is what we should be asking people to be. And I'm sure that tourists will welcome the fact that they can come here. They'll be coming to a country — with regards to how we've dealt with the pandemic has been second to none, how our economy has performed through the pandemic is second to none — and I think they'll be very keen to come here and revisit what is a wonderful, wonderful country.

Lisa Millar: Lots of people writing in this morning wanting to know when they can get on a cruise, even just domestically around Australia?

Dan Tehan: So, there is cruising that's going on. Throughout the pandemic cruising for up to a hundred people on a vessel has been going on. Now, we want to lift cruising. We're working with the states and territories. Obviously, we need to work with state and territory governments because the ships come in and out of ports in states and territories, so I've been in discussions with my state and territory counterparts.

Cruising is taking place in about 70 countries across the world. So, we're very keen to reopening cruising. That is next. And I'm looking forward to continuing those conversations with my state and territory counterparts.

Lisa Millar: I want to ask you about the anti-corruption body. It appears that draft legislation is not going to see the light of day under this government. Given that it was an election promise, what should voters make of any election promises this government delivers over the next couple of months?

Dan Tehan: Well, obviously, when it comes to the integrity commission legislation, we've put legislation forward. We obviously have spoken –

Lisa Millar: Well, you haven't put it to the Parliament. You've got draft legislation, you haven't put it to the parliament.

Dan Tehan: Because what we want to do is work through and make sure that we can do this in a bipartisan way.

Lisa Millar: Yeah, I'm not sure blaming the Opposition actually cuts through with voters, to be honest.

Dan Tehan: I'm not blaming the Opposition. All I'm saying is that we want to work through this in a bipartisan way and we're happy to sit down with the Opposition and work through it. And we've made that very clear, and we'd welcome to be able to sit down and go through it and make sure that we get this right. It's incredibly important that we do that and, you know, we once again make that offer to the Opposition. We're happy to sit down and do that.

Lisa Millar: But it was an election promise. You're the Government. You can make put legislation to the Parliament. It's your job to then try and convince the Parliament to vote for the legislation.

Dan Tehan: Well, that's what we're doing. We've drafted the legislation and we're now trying to convince the Parliament –

Lisa Millar: Well, you haven't even put it to the Parliament. How are you trying to convince the Parliament?

Dan Tehan: Well, we're trying to convince parliamentarians that this is the right piece of legislation for an integrity commission, and we will continue to do that. We've got a draft bill. We welcome any views and we want to work through it, and we will continue to do that. But it's incredibly important…

Lisa Millar: Well, the Attorney-General said that time's run out. So, has time run out or not? Because the Attorney-General said time's run out.

Dan Tehan: Well, I'm sure if the Opposition came to the Government and said, ‘Look, we want to work through this with you,' that we would be prepared to sit down with them. But as the Attorney-General has said, we've got these two sitting weeks and then we've got the budget week of Parliament, so time is running out.

Lisa Millar: Well, it's going to be a big couple of weeks. I appreciate your time this morning, Dan Tehan. Thank-you.

Dan Tehan: Pleasure, Lisa.


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