Sky News Regional with Lucy Polkinghorne

  • Transcript, E&OE

Lucy Polkinghorne, host: Trade and Tourism Minister Don Farrell joins me now. Minister, good morning, we do appreciate your time. Firstly, while I have you, our top story as we just heard, Minister Penny Wong arriving in Beijing today. This is a significant trip. What are you expecting to come from this? And is the government confident China will show some movement on the $20 billion worth of trade sanctions slapped on Australian exports?

Minister for Trade, Don Farrell: Lucy it's obviously a very good development from Australia's point of view. We've tried to stabilise the relationship with China and everything that the Prime Minister, that the Deputy Prime Minister, Richard Marles, and that Senator Wong has done, and myself, has been directed at trying to have a much more responsible relationship with China. The problems that have occurred with the trade blockages won't be solved overnight and they won't be solved with one meeting, but I see it as a really good first step in solving some of those issues which have really significantly affected Australian producers. That means wine companies, barley producers, meat producers, even crayfish producers. I've made it clear that we're happy to meet at any stage, at any point, anywhere, to try and have some discussions to resolve these issues. Currently, two of the big ones - the barley dispute, and the wine dispute, are before the World Trade Organisation. We think that discussion is a far better way to resolve these issues rather than arbitration and disputation. So, as I said, I think it's a really good first step, a really good development. Senator Wong has worked very hard on this important relationship and I'm confident that things will only improve from here.

Lucy Polkinghorne: Absolutely. Well, we look forward to the outcomes of that meeting tomorrow and moving forward, and hopefully an invitation is extended to you next year too. Now, let's go back on home soil now. There's plenty of good news for the tourism sector. So if we look back at the past twelve months, did we see a bounce back in domestic travel?

Minister for Trade: We certainly did Lucy. In almost every respect, the Australian domestic tourism industry has bounced back from the terrible period at the worst time of the pandemic. The regions have done particularly well. Places like the Whitsundays - more than a 40% increase in overnight visitors. Even in South Australia, in the Clare Valley, where I'm familiar with - a 26% increase. People have tended to go to more far-flung areas to take their holidays. That's been good for places like the Northern Territory and far North Queensland. I guess the disappointing part of it is that international tourism hasn't yet recovered. So we still need to do more work there. We need to get prices down in terms of travel costs and increase the number of flights into Australia. But certainly, in terms of domestic tourism, things are going very well and we've turned the corner from the worst of the Pandemic.

Lucy Polkinghorne: Fantastic. So it's great to see that boost in local tourism back to pre-pandemic times or higher than back to before the pandemic. So what is expected then for the holiday season, where we do tend to travel around and see family and friends? Are you expecting most Australians to take the opportunity to travel abroad or opting to holiday interstate?

Minister for Trade: No I think most Australians will do what they've been doing for the last two years, and that means they'll be travelling within Australia. A couple of the things that have stood out is where people are going. They have very much concentrated on nature, tourism, bushwalking, going to places which historically they would not have gone to. So I think most Australians will stay in Australia, to visit family and friends, because that's what you do at Christmas time, but also take the opportunity to see some of those parts of Australia that they've never seen. And we want them to travel safely and carefully over this Christmas period.

Lucy Polkinghorne: Yes, indeed we do. But it is great to see that people are travelling, as you said, to father areas across the regions, giving them a boost as well, not just focusing on our capital cities. So that is brilliant news. Minister Don Farrell, we do appreciate your time this morning. Thank you.

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