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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 6 Hansard (8 June) . . Page.. 2005..


MR BARR (continuing):

self-help. The Liberal Party are the great proponents of people getting off their backsides and doing stuff for themselves. Let us see a bit of it in tourism as well.

I am happy, as minister, to do all the promotion I can possibly do, particularly in communities where I may be able to forge some links that have otherwise not been the case. I am happy to champion our tourism effort in those areas. I am looking forward to going to the Australian Tourism Exchange in Adelaide later this month. There have been some great opportunities there for the ACT.

It is, I suppose, overall a case, though, of how much money you are going to devote to any one set of industry assistance. As I say, philosophically, all in all I am pretty wary of government business handlings. I do not think they help industry either. If you cannot survive without government assistance, then there is a problem-there really is-in industry and you get people saying, "Let's pick winners. Let's throw money at a whole range of projects and see what happens."

I think the history of governance in Australia shows that the governments tend not to be particularly successful with that sort of industry policy and that you need to get your broad economic settings right. I think it is clearly the case in this territory that that is the direction we are headed. I think it is important that, at a political level, we show some leadership on tourism. That is something that, as minister, I intend to do. Whether we can sustain tourism spending at 111 per cent above the national average forever is very questionable, in the context of getting the full returns from that expenditure.

It is interesting that, when you look at the comparisons, in the ACT we are spending an average of nearly $55 a head on tourism and Victoria spends $8.73. So you have to question whether, at the top end of that, there are diminishing marginal returns on this expenditure. We need to be a bit smarter about how we do things. We need to make sure that at the administrative end we are efficient. You would have to question, in the context of this administrative change, that the reasons behind it are about making some administrative savings, about sharing some particular aspects of HR, of finance, of media. There is a whole range of things where-

Mr Gentleman: Printing.

MR BARR: Printing, indeed, yes-there are aspects of the operations at the moment, or prior to the budget anyway, where we perhaps could wind back and spend our money more wisely. I think that, in the end, that is the direction we are heading in, and that is the direction I strongly support as minister, to see that we put our maximum effort into markets that will get a definite return for us and we are a little bit innovative.

I find, certainly from my own perspective, that how effective our website is, for example, is very important now, particularly for attracting tourists, shall I say, of generation X and generation Y. The whole basis of a lot of our choices about where to spend our disposable income is based around easy access on the internet. That is going to be a sharp focus for me, to ensure that all of our tourism website material is spot on and is at the cutting edge. That, I think, is something I will be seeking to deliver under these reformed arrangements.


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