Interview on Channel 7, Weekend Sunrise, with Monique Wright and Matt Doran
Matt Doran: Well, Minister of Tourism and Trade Simon Birmingham joins us now. Minister, good morning. Thank you for being with us. The money, of course, is sorely needed in this area. Can you tell us where it will be distributed?
Simon Birmingham: Good morning, Matt. This is a $233 million investment into some of the Commonwealth National Parks, so iconic parks like Uluru and Kakadu. It’s going to help to support around 1000 jobs during the construction phase by putting in place better boardwalks, better camping facilities, upgrading the range of facilities so that these iconic national parks are in the best possible condition to welcome tourists back as and when we can do so.
Matt Doran: Minister, could there be an element of frustration that with all this funding in this sector, the actual tourism operators, you know, we’re hearing reports that they are crying out for help and it's not flowing through?
Simon Birmingham: Well, tourism operators are doing it incredibly tough, and as a Government, we recognise that the tourism industry was the first hit with the international travel restrictions and indeed, will probably be the last to really come out of the economic pain that we're facing at present, given those international restriction will stay in place. That’s why we’ve put in place programs like JobKeeper. It’s why we’ve been talking so closely to the tourism industry to understand their conditions as we review JobKeeper and look to what’s necessary beyond September. But it’s also why we’re making sure we invest in getting domestic tourism happening as the state borders open up where it’s safe to do so, and invest in the long-term future. That’s what this investment in national parks is about. $233 million to make sure that our tourism product is world-class and to ensure nature-based tourism, which is such a huge part of the tourism offering for Australia, is something that continues to be really attractive to visitors from around Australia, and when it’s safe to do so, [indistinct] again, too.
Monique Wright: Yeah, but do you think the messaging is a bit confusing, thought? Because we’re being encouraged to road trip to regions, inject money into our local economy, but there is no certainty about the future of border closures, is there? So people are nervous about making bookings.
Simon Birmingham: I understand that nervousness, but we are gradually seeing states open up their borders. We’ve seen South Australia, where I am at present, open up to everywhere except, at present, New South Wales and Victoria. And hopefully, they’ll open up to New South Wales in just a few days’ time. So, we’re seeing that steady progress with Queensland, of course, has begun opening up as well. This is great progress that our states have made. In the Northern Territory, home to Uluru and Kakadu, has opened up as well, and that means that people can start to make bookings, can start to make these plans and ought to do so, because if you can afford to get out there and take a short trip somewhere around Australia, you’ll not only be having a great time, you’ll probably be saving the jobs of fellow Australians and the small businesses of our tourism operators.
Matt Doran: They’re certainly needed. Minister for Tourism and Trade, Simon Birmingham. Thank you very much for being with us on Weekend Sunrise.
Simon Birmingham: Thanks so much, guys. My pleasure.