Destination Australia Conference Melbourne – doorstop

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: tourism bid fund, South Africa immigration, Russia trade.
15 March 2018

STEVEN CIOBO: The value ofAustralia's tourism industry is critical to the 600,000 people that areemployed in Australia's tourism industry. It's a now $41 billion exportindustry, a $135 billion in value across the economy. With 600,000 jobs atstake, it's critical that we continue to drive this industry. I'm pleased theCoalition is providing record funding to Tourism Australia, and that recordfunding means we're seeing a record number of tourists staying for a recordlength of time, spending a record amount of money. We've seen particularlystrong growth from the China market. In the new Dundee campaign in NorthAmerica, headlined of course by Chris Hemsworth, will help to drive even moretourists to Australia, and helps to grow the number of jobs in the tourismindustry. I'm really pleased that we've been able to announce a new $12 millionBoosting Business Events Bid Fund, which will be made available to ensure thatthe business events sector has access to funding to help provide additionalincentives for major international business events to come to Australia.Business event tourists are important. We know on average they spend twice asmuch as a leisure tourist. We also have these high levels of dispersal intoregional centres from business events as well. And if we can also encourage andentice those that are coming to business events to be able to have for example,a partner, or a family member or someone else travelling with them as well, wecan really grow this very lucrative segment of the Australian travel industry.So, let's make sure that we continue to invest in tourism, continue to grow thenumbers of tourists that are coming to Australia, and continue to boost theyield, especially from the business events segment of the market, that way wecan underline the importance and continue to provide support for the 600,000that are employed in this industry. Happy to take any questions.

JOURNALIST: Minister, so, how did you arrive at the figure of $12 billion, million, itcould have been five, could have been thirty, what's the significance with –

STEVENCIOBO: Ah, well like all of these things, it's as much of an art, as it isa science. We've gotta balance all of the various competing demands acrossGovernment. Obviously you know, pretty fiscally constrained environment andwe're trying to get the budget back to surplus. It's a challenge, but workedclosely with John O'Sullivan and the board to make sure we could do somethingin a way that was consistent with what Tourism Australia was able to manage.

JOURNALIST: And how will you be distributing the money, will it be going towardsassociations, incentives, corporate events, is there a formula or you justplaying it by ear?

STEVENCIOBO: No, the actual development of the actual parameters around theprogram will be developed by the Business Events unit within Tourism Australia.They're going to work closely with of course, the business events sector tomake sure that we get the maximum boost for that $12 million in taxpayers'money that's going into the sector. I'm particularly excited, it's the firsttime the Federal Government has provided this type of incentive and support forthe business event's sector, so I want to make sure that we get maximum valuefor taxpayers and maximum return on the investment of that taxpayer money.

JOURNALIST: Minister, you mentioned inside that data, getting data from thesector is difficult, will there be sort of, more effort put in to trying tonail that down and see where this business is coming from?

STEVENCIOBO: I think, more broadly as a general comment about tourism and data,it's difficult often to get accurate data and it's been one of the areas thatI've been focused on since becoming tourism minister. Because Frankly, a lot ofthe methodologies that are being used were being used from the 1970's, sopaper-based surveys, those types of things. We've got tremendous potential tobetter utilise technology now, to look at developing more accurate snapshots ofdata across the industry, especially in different segments, by utilising accessto some, you know, let's call them more modern methods. Maybe we can look atwhat we can do with the payment system, maybe look at what with can gala offersand the hotels industry through their online resources. We've got a number ofnew approaches that we need to use. I've been working closely with Austrade,and Austrade has a project to make sure that they significantly ramp up theirefforts around the collection of new, more accurate data used in these newtechnologies, so that's what we're going to be doing.

JOURNALIST: And what does success look like at the end of this $12 million, what do youthink would represent a really big success?

STEVENCIOBO: I think the investment of $12 million of taxpayer funds needsto pay off in terms of a significant increase in terms of what we can see inthe business events space. Whether that's in terms of the size, or for lack ofa better term, the quality of a business even,t through to the frequencies ofbusiness events. All of them will be critical indicators of the success orotherwise of this program. $12 million is substantial, but in terms ofgovernment programs, a modest program, it's a good 'dip the toe in the water',so to speak, let's see how it works and we can make an assessment from there.

JOURNALIST: Minister, how do you think Australia should respond to white farmers in SouthAfrica experiencing violence?

STEVENCIOBO: Can we just see ... Is there any other business events questions?


STEVENCIOBO: Come back to that one.

JOURNALIST: There are other countries that have bid funds already and Australia ishistorically been losing business to them, is this a measure to try to get someof that back?

STEVENCIOBO: Well, I've been speaking to the business events sector for sometime, I know that there's been a call for there to be this kind of support forindustry for the Australian Government to back this business events sector. I'mpleased to have been able to deliver that together with Tourism Australia. Andof course, we don't want to see an erosion of market share from Australia.That's not to say that we wanna buy market share, because clearly that'sunsustainable. What we wanna do is make an informed decision about how we canuse this as a marketing effort to market this segment of the industry,especially given how high yielding the business events sector actually is. Anyother questions? Before we change topics?

JOURNALIST: Are there any countries specifically that you would like to target from thisbusiness from?

STEVENCIOBO: Well, I think we can see some benefits that will flow if we seecomplementarities between marketing efforts that Tourism Australia'sundertaking and business events. If we can get the two to work in tandem, thenI think that will be a great outcome that probably boost the numbers oftourists again.

JOURNALIST: The US potentially?

STEVENCIOBO: Well, I'll leave that to Tourism Australia to work out together withthe industry.

JOURNALIST: Just one more question, who should be getting credit for you making thisdecision, I saw Andrew Heibl up there from AACB, Karen Bolinger, Becker ... Ithink she's on the Becker or the Melbourne Convention Bureau , Lyn Lewis-Smith,was it an effort from the industry to help you make a decision on this?

STEVENCIOBO: Well, I'm not gonna pick out any one individual, I've been talking toall of them for a number of years, we probably came true as a Minister, as youknow I was heavily involved as Chairman of the Coalition Friends of Tourism,I've been in the tourism space for nearly two decades, so this has been adiscussion we've been having for quite some time, but in the last 18 months orso, since I became Tourism Minister, I was determined to deliver on what I sawas an opportunity in this space and that's what I've done. Thank you, sorry.

JOURNALIST: No problem, yes, so how do you think Australia should respond to white farmersin South Africa who are facing violence?

STEVENCIOBO: Anywhere where we see the persecution of people is cause forconcern, obviously the Australian Government can only do so much, we have avery rigorous program in place, we have a very generous refugee program and theMinister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, is doing an outstanding job of makingsure we retain integrity, while also being compassionate. He said he's having aclose look at events that are unfolding in South Africa and I think that that'sa good outcome.

JOURNALIST: Do you agree with the Home Affairs Minister that those farmers deserve specialattention and potentially put access in Australia's refugee and humanitarianprograms?

STEVENCIOBO: Of course I do.

JOURNALIST: So ... But special attention, as in fast tracking those matters?

STEVENCIOBO: Well, the actual details in terms of how the process works arebetter answered by the Minister of Home Affairs, not by me, I won't have thedepth of knowledge about how each program actually works, but let's be frank,if we see in this case, people who are being thrown off their land, beingpersecuted, I've read some harrowing reports of people being shot, of rapes, ofall sorts of things, then I do believe that there's a role to be played.Australia does have a very generous refugee program, we continue to providesafe haven for refugees from around the world and of course, we would also lookat what we can do in this particular case.

JOURNALIST: Will you continue to export some goods to Russia, given recent events andquestions around Russian sanctioned activities, do you think we should bereconsidering our trading relationship?

STEVENCIOBO: Well, Australia's trading relationship with Russia is significantlyconstrained and for good reason, we have in place autonomous sanctions againstRussia as well as the work we do together with United Nations. In terms oftrade, the Foreign Minister and I talk regularly about whether or not we shouldincrease or decrease sanctions, with respect to a range of different countries,depending on the circumstances at the time. Given the events of the last 72hours or so and how things have unfolded in the UK, the Foreign Minister and Iwill continue to speak about what is the appropriate way to ensure that we senda strong message of our solidarity with the UK.

JOURNALIST: Just staying with trade, what advice have you received about dumping and areyou satisfied that cheap Chinese products are not going to flood the Australianmarket?

STEVENCIOBO: Well, the Anti-Dumping Commissioner's actually under SenatorSeselja's portfolio, but obviously as Trade Minister, he and I work veryclosely to make sure that Australia's industries are not going to be subjectedto dumped product from overseas. We continue to see the Anti-Dumping Commissiondoing very good work in this space. There was something like 77 measures thatthe Anti-Dumping Commission has in effect, applying to Australia right now andof those 77, approximately 50 or thereabouts are in relations to steelproducts, so it's taking important efforts, important steps to safeguard theAustralian market to stop dump products coming into the Australian market.

JOURNALIST: Just again on the farmers, are you saying that they should be given priority upand above other people who may be experiencing persecutions and violence?

STEVENCIOBO: Let me be very clear, Australia provides safe haven for refugeesfrom around the world. The Minister for Home Affairs is doing an outstandingjob. He's looking at not only the issues with respect to farmers from SouthAfrica, but from those who are subjected to all sorts of atrocities around theworld. I think he's doing a great job with that. Australia's a very generouscountry, we can't solve all the world's problems, what we can do is play ourrole and playing our role means that we look at those who are subject topersecution, including farmers in South Africa, of course. Thanks guys.

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