Interview on ABC News, News Breakfast, with Madeleine Morris

  • Transcript, E&OE
Topics: Tourism Australia domestic campaign, Gladys Berejiklian.
13 October 2020

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Madeleine Morris: Joining us now from Adelaide is the Trade and Tourism Minister, Simon Birmingham. Look, it's pretty enticing, Senator Birmingham, and just so important this year that Australians put their hand in their pocket and do travel within the country, isn't it?

Simon Birmingham: It sure is. One in 13 Australian jobs depend on our tourism industry and COVID has really put them under enormous pressure, and the viability of those businesses under pressure. So, that’s why as part of our economic recovery plan we're stepping into the tourism marketing space again now, making sure that we encourage Australians to think beyond their own backyards and to think about booking a holiday where they can, interstate — undertaking some amazing experiences, whether that is indeed learning to surf, or doing cooking lessons, or going on incredible bush walks, or undertaking skydiving. Right across this amazing country of ours there are a whole lot of incredible things that people can do, and experiences they can have. And we do want those Australians who can to book a proper holiday, to take a week or two's break, to save jobs, and airlines, and airports, and hire car companies, in hotels, in tour operators because, in the end, their fellow Australians' jobs and we want to keep them safe too.

Madeleine Morris: They are. One in 13 people employ- one in 13 Australians employed, as you say, in the industry, yet, it actually received very little attention in the Federal Budget — very little targeted attention outside of the JobKeeper program. A number of economists had suggested things such as vouchers, like Tasmania did. Why didn't you do that, to really give this a real boost?

Simon Birmingham: Well, some of the states and territories have stepped up with vouchers. What we've done is provide many billions of dollars of support to keep these businesses afloat — through JobKeeper, through small business payments of up to $100,000, now, through the loss carryback provisions that are allowing previously profitable businesses to be able to deduct this year's losses against previous years' profits, and get more cash back from the tax office to keep them afloat.

Madeleine Morris: Yes, but that’s not going to get people- sorry, Senator. That’s not going to get people actually going to holiday destinations?

Simon Birmingham: Well, this is about making sure, firstly, that we keep these businesses afloat, keep their employees in place, and then we've given Tourism Australia a record budget of more than $230 million over the next year that they will be investing — just as we are right now — to get people moving and travelling across the country. Australians have already shown, from our big cities, enormous willingness to take drive holidays to nearby regions. We now just need them to take the next leap; to realise that sadly they're not going to be able to undertake an overseas holiday in the foreseeable future, but why not take that couple of weeks away and spend it interstate somewhere, and really help the local economy while you're doing so?

Madeleine Morris: Okay. Senator Birmingham, thank you very much for speaking to us today.

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