Topics: Tourism Australia domestic campaign, Gladys Berejiklian
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: Can I take you to the other major news of the day, which is the revelation of the New South Wales Premier, Gladys Berejiklian’s, relationship with the disgraced, former MP Daryl Maguire. She has demonstrated a critical lack of judgement in having, and continuing, this relationship, hasn’t she?
Simon Birmingham: Gladys has acknowledged that she made a mistake in her personal life. But, I think New South Wales voters can see that she is a leader who has given her absolute all in response to the bushfires, in the management of COVID, and that her management of COVID this year has ensured that New South Wales has, against all odds, managed to continuously, successfully suppress the spread of COVID, to quash hot spot outbreaks, and to open up the economy again, it saves so many jobs. And I think Gladys Berejiklian –
Madeleine Morris: I don’t think anyone is questioning her performance on COVID, sorry to break in there. But I mean, she sacked him, she continued to have a relationship with him. She’s on tape saying: I don’t want to know about that, because she clearly suggested that some of the things he was telling her about were dodgy. Doesn’t she have to resign?
Simon Birmingham: Well, Gladys has acknowledged the mistake in her personal life, her private life. Now, she’s not under investigation by the ICAC, and I think what New South Wales voters would expect her to do is to keep doing the incredible job she has been doing for them. To keep them safe, to save their jobs, to do the things that matter to their day-to-day lives. And that is what she has done so incredibly well to date, and I would expect New South Wales voters would want her not to be distracted by this. They’d understand, the embarrassment she is facing at a personal and a private level from this, but they would expect her to keep doing the job for them that she was elected to do. And I’m confident that’s what Gladys will want to get on and keep doing.
Madeleine Morris: Okay. Senator Birmingham, thank you very much for speaking to us today.