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

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (9.00): Mr Speaker, how quickly the tide turns. Two or three months ago Mr Quinlan would come in here and tell us how well the Australian Capital Tourism Corporation was doing, how it had branded the city, how it had changed direction, how the tide had turned. Now, apparently, it is all wrong. The program is wrong, the marketing is wrong, the overheads are wrong and the website is wrong. How quickly we can develop a case and attack a group of staff that have worked very hard under a government that I do not think has cared about tourism. And it is all their fault.

What is the magic cure? It is to fire some of them, drag the rest of them back into the department and say to the board, "Good job, but you are now just a bunch of advisers. Thanks very much."This is the caring, compassionate, Stanhope Labor government.

I managed to get a copy of The economic contribution of tourism to the ACT: a tourism satellite account-based analysis prepared by Access Economics for Australian Capital Tourism. I do not know if the minister has read the report, but he should get a copy because he seems to think there is no effect from the money that we spend. Interestingly, in the 2002-03 financial year, 3,995,100 people visited the ACT. At that time expenditure was, let us say, $20 million. Over the next couple of years we have taken out a million here and a million there.

It is fantastic that this afternoon the minister presented the third quarterly report, from January to March 2006, of Australian Capital Tourism Corporation. I want to compare that report with financial year 2002-03. I know that I am comparing a financial year, 2002-03, with calendar year 2005, but a year is a year. It might mean very little, but I think the comparisons will stand. Perhaps we could compare 2002-03 with 2005-06 after 30 June.

If we add the 157,000 international visitors to the 1.4 million domestic day visitors and the two million overnight visitors, we get a total of 3,589,300. That is right. The number is 10 per cent less than a year and a half ago. Why? It is because we have cut the funding. The tourism industry council has done some tracking of the funding, and, when funding is high, visitor numbers go up; when funding is reduced, visitor numbers decline. Tourism is a marketplace and we have to be in there actually selling ourselves. The competition is tough, and unless we are willing to participate we might as well just give it away.

Mr Barr, not having done his homework, ridicules the multiplier effect that people talk about. The tourism industry council says the multiplier is about 11; others have told me it is as high as 19 and some say it is $7 for every dollar spent. In 2003-03 we spent about $20 million on tourism. In 2002-03 total tourist expenditure in the ACT was $1,350 million-$1.3 billion. That figure breaks down into $1 billion worth of ACT-produced goods and services at basic values; $225 million worth of materials brought into the ACT, such as petrol, and $107 million in indirect taxes to the ACT government. So we spent about $20 million and got back $107 million. I would have thought that was a good investment. Tourism funding is an investment.

Do the people of the ACT believe that the government has a role in funding tourism? I have a survey of residents' perceptions of tourism prepared by the University of Canberra. Respondents were asked who they thought should be funding tourism

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