Doorstop with Lucy Watson launching Working Holiday Maker campaign
STEVEN CIOBO: It's terrific to be here. To join with Lucy and to join with this pop up here at Victoria Station. A chance to just reinforce what a great time it is to come to Australia. As Australia's Tourism Minister, I want to make it very clear that there's never been a better time to come to Australia. In Australia right now, instead of it being cold and grey, it's a warm 28C. We've got blue sky, great beaches, and it's never been cheaper to come. We've reduced the cost for Working Holiday Makers by reducing the cost of Visas down to 240 pounds or thereabouts, people can stay for up to two years. A chance to work in a variety of locations across Australia. They might choose to work for a while on the Great Barrier Reef, enjoying the pristine sands and the blue sky, working in the hospitality industry or they might move, for example, somewhere south and work around Melbourne, cosmopolitan as it is and enjoy fruit picking. It's a great chance for young Brits to come to Australia, part of the 60,000 or thereabouts that come every year, enjoy the warmth and hospitality of being in Australia, the great historical ties we have, of course, the great linkages that we have between our people. A chance for them to enjoy some of the best take home pay rates they can also have in any comparable country. It's little wonder, therefore, that so many Brits have Australia as their number one preferred destination outside of Europe to come and be a backpacker in, so there's never been a better time. This display is about showcasing Australia and reminding people, now is the best time of all to come to Australia. I might pass over to Lucy to say a few words based on her experiences as well.
LUCY WATSON: I couldn't agree more and I think it's an amazing opportunity for so many people. I think that everyone should definitely try it. I've been a few times and I've got some family there and I love it so much. It's a really great thing that you guys are offering.
STEVEN CIOBO: Great! Right, questions?
JOURNALIST: If the British are our number one tourism, holidaymakers, why I are we spending $10 million dollars to attract more?
STEVEN CIOBO: We want to make sure that we are attracting more Working Holiday Makers to Australia. They're great tourists, on average they spend around $10,000 per year but they also satisfy a labour force shortage in Australia. A lot of the work that they do is seasonal work, it's work that requires people to be there for a relatively short period of time so typically jobs that can't be filled by full-time Australians and this is an opportunity for them to combine that travel, to combine lower Visa costs, great rates they can got on flights to Australia, together with better take-home pay and enjoy the unique experience of being in Australia as a working holiday-maker.
JOURNALIST: But the reality is the numbers dropped off by nine per cent and the whole talk about the backpacker tax was really bad PR wasn't it? So now you're having to spend $10 million to say you are actually open for business.
STEVEN CIOBO: The great news is that the total number of backpackers coming into Australia has actually increased. This campaign is about boosting Australia's effectiveness, we've got great take home pay rates, we've reduced the cost of Visas, there has never been a more compelling time to come and work and holiday in Australia. The fact is, Australia offers a really unique experience and a tremendous opportunity for young Brits who have Australia as their number one preferred destination outside of Europe to come and holiday in.
JOURNALIST: The backpacker tax was really bad PR, wasn't it?
STEVEN CIOBO: The fact is there has never been a more compelling time, people that come and holiday in Australia. A great opportunity for them to enjoy Australia, enjoy the warmth of the Australian people, get great take home pay, have a lower Visa cost, so we are very confident that we'll see a good boost in numbers from the UK and our other key source markets across Europe.
JOURNALIST: Minister, why do you have the representatives of the surf lifeguards here that are British and that have never actually been surf lifeguards?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well of course. No, I'm happy to answer the question either way. I can keep going if you'd like me to? I can talk over the announcement.
JOURNALIST: Keep going.
STEVEN CIOBO: This is, of course, representative. We weren't about to fly eight or ten life savers over from Australia. I don't think taxpayers would think that an effective use of money. This is about showcasing Australia. Obviously, it's not a real beach. Obviously, it's not a real surf lifesaving tower but what it does convey in a very simple and straightforward way is the attractiveness of coming to Australia and frankly, I think it's great that people see a little piece of Australia, here in the middle of their morning commute, in downtown, grey, London.
JOURNALIST: Minister, there are 15,0000 Australians here in London, I'm just wondering why you can't find one of them to represent Australia?
STEVEN CIOBO: If you want the specific details, I'd refer you to Tourism Australia on those specific details.
JOURNALIST: Minister, how bad has it been watching what's gone on with EU and the European/Canada trade deals? Is it true, as reported, that Australia is going to have to scale back its hope for what can be achieved?
STEVEN CIOBO: I am very confident that we'll be able to achieve a great trade deal with both Europe and the UK, once the UK formally exits the European Union. From my perspective, trade deals are about win-win outcomes. That's great for driving economic growth, that's great for driving employment. Obviously, we will be informed, in terms of, aspirations with the European Union off the back of the experience that Canada's had with the EU. From my perspective, that means being informed about the comprehensiveness of the trade deal that we might form with the European Union. So, of course, we'll look what they're doing, we've got a scoping study underway that will conclude by the end of this year and then we will have some great conversations with Cecilia Malmstrom, the EU Trade Commissioner, about what we will be able to achieve together.
JOURNALIST: Minister, would you like to comment about the tragedy at Dreamworld today, this does put a damper on this launch as well, doesn't it?
STEVEN CIOBO: What transpired today in Dreamworld is an absolute tragedy. I send my condolences to the very heartbroken family and friends and loved ones of those that lost their lives today. It is a real tragedy and I, simply, confine my remarks to that. Any other questions?
JOURNALIST: Just one more on that EU trade deal, you're trying to be positive about it and I understand why you are but really it's been seen as a complete embarrassment to the EU and a disaster and here is Australia, so much smaller than Canada, kind of think that it can do better somehow. I just want you to be a bit real with us, I guess.
STEVEN CIOBO: Well, I can't be any more real than explain that the benefits of a trade deal between Australia and the European Union is good for driving economic growth and good for driving employment prospects. I think it would be a significant mistake to make the assumption that Canada's experience would be the same as Australia's. As I mentioned, clearly, we'll will be informed by the Canadian experience, but that experience is only one component and what I want to make sure we do is form as comprehensive a trade deal as possible with the European Union. Now it might be that that's retained to the core competency of the European Union and doesn't require going down to member states to vote on but all of these are details we'll have to work out in due course.
JOURNALIST: Minister, the Canadian deal has been in talks for five years. Is Australia prepared to talk for that long in their deal?
STEVEN CIOBO: What I want to do is make sure we engage in good faith with the European Union. Now, our conversation in relation to the scoping study, has been very positive. I have had a number of very cordial meetings with Cecilia Malmstrom, and both the European Union and Australia are committed to advancing it as much as we can. Obviously, how long this will take and exactly what will be entailed in the negotiation is yet to be determined but I'm very confident, given the success we've had securing trade deals with the three North Asian powerhouse economies. What the coalition has been able to achieve in relation to the Singapore/Australia trade deal, means that we are well placed to negotiate a good trade deal. Good for Europe, good for Australia. How long that will take, time will tell but I'm going to try to achieve an outcome as efficient as possible.
JOURNALIST: Have you earmarked any funds to help bankroll these talks and ongoing scoping study beyond next year?
STEVEN CIOBO: Part of the foreign affairs and trade, of course, is the recurrent budget and all the expenses involved with negotiating trade deals is exhumed within that. All right? Thanks everybody.
JOURNALIST: Thank you.