Interview on ABC North and West SA, Regional Late Afternoons, with Narelle Graham

  • Transcript, E&OE
Topics: Tourism Australia campaign; EU-Australia trade deals; Newstart
30 October 2019

Narelle Graham: First this hour though, if you are in the Eyre Peninsula, Kangaroo Island and the Flinders, get ready because the tourists are coming. EP, KI and the Flinders, you are featured in a new Tourism Australia campaign. I'm going to tweet the ad. I love radio but it is better with pictures. But here's a little bit of the audio.


Vox Pop: It's about 40 people a day.

Vox Pop: We're a pretty cruise-y bunch, I think, most of the time.

Vox Pop: Being able to laugh at each other, laugh at ourselves.

[End of excerpt]

Narelle Graham: It is a nice ad. Let's go to Simon Birmingham, Senator Simon Birmingham, who is among other hats, the Federal Tourism Minister. Welcome to you. Minister.

Simon Birmingham: G'day, Narelle. Great to be with you. 

Narelle Graham: The Philausophy campaign, P-H-I-L-A-U-S-O-P-H-Y, I know you must be prepared for this, what is it Philausophy?

Simon Birmingham: Well, it is, in broad terms, it's the strategy that sort of brings together what are 15 campaigns running across the different international markets that Tourism Australia targets for visitors to Australia and those campaigns are going to run over the next three years. And what we're really doing through this strategy is to say: yes, of course, we'll keep showing the incredible images of Australia, the amazing scenes, whether it's from the Flinders Ranges, Port Lincoln, the Clare Valley or other wonderful spots of SA and across the nation, and we'll keep highlighting the experiences. We also want to bring to life the personality, the philosophy, if you like, of Australia that guarantees to people you're going to see great things when you come here, you'll also have a great time.

Narelle Graham: So philosophy is misspelt with the A-U-S in the middle because it stands for Australia. So, the Barossa Valley, KI, Remarkable Rocks and Arkaba Station in the Flinders Ranges, they all feature. Why those destinations? Are they already known beyond Australia and then we're building on that?

Simon Birmingham: Well, absolutely about certainly building where we have awareness, building where we also have already outstanding tourism products, who are partnering already often with Tourism Australia in terms of supplementing the national marketing campaign. We're committing $38 million of taxpayers' dollars to this campaign. Now, we get that back many times over with the billions of dollars in international visitor spend that happens in Australia. But we also look to make sure that the partners, be they states and territories, local tourism bodies, all those commercial tourism operators, can also buy into those campaigns, use the same images, feature them. And so, we certainly look to those iconic, successful tourism attractions that also have the accommodation, the resources and the tourism operators to be able to push not just a generic message but deeply into those international markets with a call to action to come and book in these particular places.

Narelle Graham: That is Senator Simon Birmingham, the Minister for Tourism in Australia. What is the goal in the increase of overseas tourists? Do we look at numbers, do we look at money that it's brought into South Australia before we say: yep, okay? Because you have to look at these things and say whether it was successful or not. So, what are you using to measure that and what is the measure?

Simon Birmingham: Sure. So, I mean, the goal is, at its most crude, visitor spending, it's dollars, into our economy. The tourism industry overall is around $138-billion-dollar industry to Australia. It sustains about one in 13 Australian jobs. Now, a large part of that is the domestic tourism industry. But equally, the international tourist spend is significant to our country and to our state and the [audio skip] markets of UK, Europe, US are all still very important to us and that means that we're a long haul travel destination. Air tickets are more expensive to get here. We're vast distances when you get here, so getting around is more expensive. Compared to much of the rest of the world, we're a high wage, high cost destination so we have to target the traveller who can afford to spend and we want to target those travellers who have the biggest economic impact in Australia. And so, we will look and monitor very closely visitor spending years to come. It's gone up significantly in the last couple of years – around 9 per cent in the US market, for example. And so, continuing to target those high-value travellers is a key part of the strategy in this campaign.

Narelle Graham: Minister, Twitter has had varied reactions to this campaign today. One of them from News Breakfast is: what would your Australian tourism campaign look like, and somebody put up some shots that they did on their mobile phone, kids jumping into pools, and saying: look, this makes a better ad than the new $38 million Tourism Australia campaign. What do you say to that?

Simon Birmingham: What people are seeing today is really the overarching strategy that is being pushed out to the tourism industry of Australia, first and foremost. And what people will see over the coming weeks, months, and years is actually the execution of this campaign which will differ across each of the 15 countries that we go into. Philausophy is not a catchline that's going to appear in every single country. We will vary it according to the culture of different countries, the campaign- the final ads will look quite different to an initial piece that is really about just capturing the overall genre.

Narelle Graham: The same thing as people said about South Australia's old mate campaign. We don't know yet if that has worked, but it certainly has created a lot of interest. The Financial Review's reporting on the campaign - it will include advertising across outdoor, print, digital, social, and video advertising. It will also include a to-be-released book with stories from famous Australians, including Kylie Minogue and Tourism Australia Global Ambassador Chris Hemsworth. Do tell.

Simon Birmingham: Well, I look forward to reading this story. They are being finalised at present But as I was saying before in terms of those high value international visitors, this type of execution in the campaign is about being able to reach into- for example, to very affluent parts of the United States and having a very high quality production piece that uses well-known Australians and their stories of Australia, what they love doing when they're back in Australia, what their childhood memories are of things they love to do, and seeks to really take what is in many of our markets, a love for Australia and a desire to come to Australia, and can convert it into a: well actually, I think I should get around to making that booking, and jeez, those experiences, those activities sound like the type of thing that I want to get in there and do.

So yeah, it's- as I say, kind of- each of the different markets, you know, China's campaign will look different to the United States' campaign, and the way in which we deliver it in those markets, whether it's social media, whether it's old fashioned television, or whether it's something like a glossy magazine will vary case by case. 

Narelle Graham: Minister, can you pop your Trade hat on for a moment. Global indicators, your discussions with the EU about whether Australia can continue to produce or name our products under these- feta is one, I don't want to dwell on that. Lately I've been talking about prosecco, and I know a lot comes from the King Valley in Victoria. There are producers in the south east of South Australia, also in the Riverland. Are we going to have to come up with a new name?

Simon Birmingham: I hope not and I don't think so. We are viewing relation to the wine names that the EU seeks protection of is that we did that deal more than a decade ago. The Australian wine industry, where I used to work, went into bat with the EU, struck and Australia-EU wine agreement, agreed that the EU could exclusively use terms such as Champagne or sherry or Rhine Riesling. And since then, the wine industry has got on with Australia with really building our recognition of the Barossa, Clare, McLaren Vale, and focussing on adjoining those geographical indications in Australia with then grape variety. And we view Prosecco as a grape variety, and the EU didn't seek its protection more than a decade ago, and we don't believe anything has changed since then.

Narelle Graham: Okay, so they can't change the rules now. Just wondering, when you do do these- have these trade talks with other countries, do they call you Birmo? Do you they call the Prime Minister ScoMo, and are they freaked out when we do?

Simon Birmingham: I can let you in on a little secret, that Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister, does call Prime Minister Morrison ScoMo, in that Japanese accent where much of the rest of the conversation is being translated. It's quite entertaining to hear the translated: ScoMo.

Narelle Graham: I bet it is. Also, Senator Simon Birmingham, the Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee, they're holding public hearings in Adelaide today about the adequacy of Newstart. Do you personally think Newstart needs to be increased?

Simon Birmingham: Look, I think- and we've just spent a lot of time talking about tourism campaigns, and that is about trying to continue to create more jobs across Australia, and that is well and truly where our focus is at the government. The Newstart is of course the base allowance, but nearly everybody who receives Newstart also receives other forms of social security payments and support and assistance, and we do try to gear the system as best we can to provide that support, recognising that different circumstances to people - whether it's rental assistance, whether it's other family assistance, or types of supplementary payments.

Narelle Graham: Do you think that there needs to be an increase in the supplementary payments?

Simon Birmingham: Well, if Newstart and those payments are indexed, they do increase to stay in line with inflation, with CPI, and that's as it should be.

Narelle Graham: So if it comes to a vote, and it probably will, to increase Newstart - what will you vote? Keep it as it is?

Simon Birmingham: Well, it would be budget decisions for the government, and our policy position at present is to stick with the indexation that is there, to increase it twice a year in accordance with those indexation principles.

Narelle Graham: Senator Simon Birmingham, thank you.

Simon Birmingham: Thanks.

Narelle Graham: He is also the Minister for Tourism.

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