Interview with Peter Stefanovic, First Edition

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: Cruise industry; Australia-India free trade agreement.
14 March 2022

PETER STEFANOVIC: Well, let's go live now to the Trade and Tourism Minister Dan Tehan, live in Hamilton for us this morning. Minister, good to see you. The New South Wales Premier, he was on your case on the weekend about cruise ships. When will the cruise ship industry resume here?

DAN TEHAN: Well, it will be able to resume on the 17 of April, Pete. And it was wonderful to have the Premier out there saying that New South Wales is going to work with the Commonwealth to get it going. We've been waiting for the states and territories to get all the health protocols in place. I spoke to Stuart Ayres last night after what the Premier had to say. I also spoke to the Queensland Tourism Minister, and we've agreed in the next day we're going to get all the work necessary. So, hopefully, on Wednesday we can announce that 17 of April is the day that cruising can begin again in this nation, which is absolutely wonderful.

Obviously, it takes a few weeks or months for the cruise industry to be able to plan to get the ships back but we now see absolutely no reason why we can't make that formal announcement. And now that we've got New South Wales, and I'm pretty sure we're going to have Queensland, on board my expectation is those protocols at the state level will be finalised in the next couple of days, and my hope is that on Wednesday we'll be officially announcing that it is 17 April. And that's the last plank. Then we have tourism back to its brilliant best here in Australia. It will be wonderful for our travel agents and wonderful for our nation.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Okay. Well, that's big, Minister. So, the ban will end, as you see things at the moment, on the 17th of April?

DAN TEHAN: Absolutely. All we need to do is just dot the i's and cross the t's. And obviously the New South Wales Premier yesterday made it very clear that New South Wales is on board, which is fantastic. I spoke to the Queensland Tourism Minister last night, he's keen to get on board as well. So, all we need is those health protocols in place at the state level over the next 24, 48 hours, and we should be ready to announce so, especially for our travel agents, this is another piece of wonderful news.

PETER STEFANOVIC: So what would prevent that? What would stop that from proceeding?

DAN TEHAN: Well, we've just got to make sure that the two states – New South Wales and Queensland – tick off on what their health officials say and if they do that, we're there. I mean, the Commonwealth wants to go. We've been ready to go now for a number of weeks. As a matter of fact, I've been pushing for us to go for a number of months and I've been talking to my state and territory counterparts but we need to-we need obviously, because the states run the ports, we need their tick off. And they've been working with their health officials but from what I heard yesterday from the New South Wales Premier he must be very confident that his health officials are ready to give us the green light. And if that's the case, there's no reason why we can't be up and running in a matter of months and there's no reason why we can't say, hopefully by Wednesday, that cruising can begin as of April 17.

PETER STEFANOVIC: All right. Good news for the cruising industry there. It's over to the states now. Also something else on your desk, Minister, the free trade deal with India, any progress there on when that will be finalised?

DAN TEHAN: Yeah, look, Pete, we're making big inroads. I'm almost talking daily, if not twice a day, with my Indian counterpart. It's hard, it's tough. This has been something we've been trying to do now for over a decade but we're getting very close. Now, ultimately, it's got to be in our national interests and it's got to be in the national interests of India. We're trying to bridge those gaps. And hopefully by early next week we might be in a position to announce something. We're not there yet and, in the end, we'll have to make a calculation whether it is in our national interests, but there's a lot of work going on behind the scenes.

And we're doing everything we can to try and get an announcement by early next week.

PETER STEFANOVIC: By early next week. Okay. Dan Tehan, thanks for your time this morning. We'll talk to you again soon.


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