Interview with Neil Breen, 4BC Breakfast

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: ‘Holiday Here This Year’ tourism campaign, Border closures, Support for the tourism sector, Australia-China relationship.
03 February 2021

Neil Breen: Dan Tehan. How are you, Minister?

Dan Tehan: Neil, I’m very well. How are you?

Breen: I’m very well, thanks. So, you’ve got a $5 million marketing campaign to inspire Australians to spend up and support the tourism sector. Tell us about it.

Tehan: It’s about making sure that people understand how many wonderful destinations we’ve got here in Australia. And, as you’re back to work and got the kids back to school, you should be thinking about your next holiday. And, we want you to start thinking about it, and then taking action, booking that holiday, and exploring the wonderful places we have here in Australia. We normally have a lot of people from around the world coming here to explore Australia – we can’t have that happening at the moment. So, instead, what we want is Australians getting to know their own backyard. So, book that holiday, do the tourism industry a favour, and get out there and explore what is a wonderful country.

Breen: I think one of the things, Minister, that we just have to work on as a country – and I don’t want to get into an interstate brawl while we’re trying to get people to holiday here in Australia – but, it’s the uncertainty over borders. It’s coming up on this show over and over, and there’s almost been a theme of the show today where people are just worried and scared about booking holidays, because we’ve now got a hotspot situation where one case means a whole state’s a hotspot.

Tehan: It is problematic, Neil, and one of the things that the Federal Government has been urging states and territories to do is to get a uniform approach, so we can get some consistency across the nation with regards to declaring hotspots and when borders will shut or close. It would really do wonders for our tourism industry so we’re continuing to work with them on that. I’m looking forward to discussing that with tourism ministers across the country in the coming weeks. But, in the meantime, the Federal Government is absolutely committed to doing what we can, and that’s why this $5 million domestic campaign has been rolled out, so that we encourage people, even if you travel within your state to the wonderful destinations within your state, that’s a fantastic start to supporting our tourism industry.

Breen: Yeah. Well, the amazing thing is that, you know, a lot of people live in Brisbane. And, it became a thing, Minister, that people went, you know, I’ll go to Bali, it was cheap, and Fiji and Thailand, and these places. But, right on our doorstep here in Queensland, I think people sort of sometimes take it for granted what we have here, and you can have holidays in Queensland that are better than anything you’ll get overseas.

Tehan: Absolutely, couldn’t agree more and, look, my family’s a great example of that. My grandparents went for their honeymoon on Magnetic Island, off Townsville, nearly 100 years ago …

Breen: … Yeah? Wow …

Tehan: … And, ever since then, the family have been travelling, every winter, the family heads up there to holiday — uncles, aunts, you name it. And, it’s a wonderful destination, and, you know, I’m incredibly fond of Magnetic Island because of that. You know, Alma Bay’s fantastic when the tide’s out — great place to play beach cricket. You’ve got the toad racing, you know, the local RSL and it’s, sort of, become part of the family, those events, and getting up there. So, you know, we should understand what great destinations we have within each state and territory.

Breen: There’s some sort of eyewatering figures around. Domestic tourism – it’s worth $100 billion to the Australian economy, supports 621,000 jobs. But, the latest forecast from Tourism Australia showed the tourism industry could make a loss of $55 billion this financial year, after a 38 per cent fall in spending. It just goes to show how tough a year it’s been for them.

Tehan: Absolutely, it has. And, that’s why all of us can make a real difference by booking a holiday here this year. We know the international tourists are unlikely to come back this year. We, hopefully, will get the bubble up and going again with New Zealand. We might be able to look at doing things with Singapore and other countries but it’s unlikely we’re going to see international tourism back until next year so all of us can holiday here and really help our tourism industry and those 666,000 jobs that the tourism industry employs.

Breen: You got any scoops for us? What we can expect in Parliament today in Canberra?

Tehan: No, I think it’ll be more of the same. It’s wonderful to be back, democracy’s very important but, I’ve got to say, the thing I love about my job is getting out and about and seeing the wonderful places that we have here in Australia, talking to people, and, obviously, representing my wonderful community in the west of Victoria. I’ve got a wonderful country community, has the Twelve Apostles, which is also a wonderful tourism destination. So, it’s great to be in Parliament, we do important work, but I can’t wait to get out of here again and get out and be talking to people, meeting with people. I’m going to be up in Cairns, the Gold Coast, the Whitsundays next week, talking to the tourism sector there to see what we can do to help and support them and that’ll be a fantastic week, and I’m really looking forward to that.

Breen: Well, it’ll be more fun than talking to China about trade.

Tehan: Well, we’ve got some serious issues there we’re trying to work through and I’ve written to my counterpart – he was appointed just before Christmas, like I was – and said that we’d really like to have a constructive relationship. And, I’ll patiently wait for his reply to that letter.

Breen: Start from scratch, that’s, start from scratch. Okay, the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan. Have a good day in Canberra, thanks for joining us on 4BC Breakfast.

Tehan: Been a real pleasure, Neil, and thanks for your time.

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