TV interview with Lucy Polkinghorne, Sky News Regional Australia

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: Best Australian Beaches 2023, Drowning Deaths on Beaches, First Trade Ministers Meeting with China.

Lucy Polkinghorne, Host: Back on home soil now, and the best Australian Beaches for 2023 have been revealed with nine out of the ten on the list in regional areas, stunning Stokes Bay on South Australia's Kangaroo Island has taken the coveted best Australian beach title for 2023.

Joining me live now is Minister for Trade and Tourism, Don Farrell. Minister, good morning to you. Now, I tell you what, I certainly don't envy the person that has to make this call. We are certainly blessed with arguably the most beautiful coastline in the world. So, what is the criteria to curate the top ten list?

Minister for Trade, Don Farrell: This year Lucy, we were looking for beaches that would particularly appeal to international visitors, because our borders have reā€‘opened, and we'd love international visitors to have the same experience that Australians have been able to get over the last couple of years by particularly focusing on our regional beaches. Of course, Stokes Bay in beautiful Kangaroo Island has been the winner this year.

Lucy Polkinghorne: Yeah, it is simply stunning. We've got a photo up here now of that beach. My personal favourite, Boomerang Beach, near Foster came in number second.

Now, no surprises, you said nine of the ten top beaches are in the regional areas. So, are you hoping not only this will help bolster tourism from international tourists, but also locals looking for a beach holiday might explore somewhere they haven't considered before?

Minister for Trade: Yeah, look, that's exactly right, Lucy. What we've seen over the last couple of years, because international travel outbound has been so difficult, is that Australians for the first time have explored more of our wonderful beaches. In fact, one of my cousins pointed out that he'd had his wedding photographs on Stokes Bay Beach. It's an opportunity for Australians and international travellers to have a look at the wonderful beaches.

It was a tough job to pick ten, because everybody thinks their own beach is the most beautiful, but I'm sure these ten will be terrific places to visit over the next 12 months.

Lucy Polkinghorne: Absolutely, I'll be adding them to my list too. Now, Minister on a more sombre note though, tragically we did have another death on our beaches over the weekend, a drowning of a man on a beach in Sydney's South, Shelly Beach near Cronulla. Now, the number of national drowning deaths so far this summer is over 50. Should the government be doing more to keep locals and tourists safe on our beaches?

Minister for Trade: Look, it's a very important issue, Lucy. Last weekend I was with my grandchildren down at one of the beautiful beaches in South Australia, Normanville Beach, and you've just got to keep an eye on them like a hawk I'm afraid. More needs to be done, but people have got to take some responsibility themselves. They've got to be careful about where they go swimming, and particularly with young children, you've just got to keep an eye on them all of the time - you can't let them out of your sight.

Lucy Polkinghorne: Yeah, absolutely, and many of these drownings have been older people as well. Is there more needed around education about rips and surf safety, and what more can possibly be done?

Minister for Trade: All of those things will be important. Obviously with younger students, making sure they learn to swim. We live on an island, and it's very important that parents take responsibility and make sure their children can swim. With older Australians, they've got to be careful. Water - swimming is risky, and you've got to take proper precautions wherever you go swimming.

Lucy Polkinghorne: Yes, absolutely. Now, last week, Minister - I have to ask you while we've got you here - you have booked the first meeting of Trade Ministers with China in over three years. Do you have any firm date on when this virtual meeting will take place and what will be the first item on your agenda to cover off?

Minister for Trade: The first item on the agenda, Lucy, will be seeking the removal of those $20 billion worth of trade bans on some of our important products, like wine, like barley, like meat, like crayfish. We're trying to lock in a date at the moment, and all of the indications from the Chinese Government have been very, very positive. So, I'm looking forward to a meeting in the very near future and trying to resolve these outstanding issues with the Chinese Government.

Lucy Polkinghorne: We look forward to when that meeting is scheduled in. Minister, Don Farrell, we do appreciate your time this morning. Thanks very much.

Minister for Trade: Thanks Lucy.

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