Page 2224 - Week 06 - Friday, 27 June 2008
document. What a ridiculous statement! That is what a tourism firm is there for; it is there to market. What is that organisation meant to do? It is meant to do the marketing for the ACT. In addition to the activities of the commonwealth government and the national institutions that are located in the ACT, we need to promote the ACT itself beyond the boundaries of the ACT and, indeed, beyond the boundaries of Australia.
To this you then add the cuts by the Rudd government in the 2008 budget to those same national institutions. They have statutory obligations; they have to look after collections; they have to provide services to the public. What will suffer the most? Clearly, the marketing areas will. As if those two adverse impacts are not bad enough, the ACT tourist industry now, along with the rest of Australia, is having to cope with the relatively high value of the Australian dollar compared to the US dollar, and that is causing them problems. We saw extra taxes put on the industry through the Rudd budget as well, and that is compounded then by the rising cost of fuel, which affects airfares.
But more importantly for our market, given that almost 70 per cent of tourists arrive in Canberra by car, the rising cost of fuel and the inability of the Rudd government to do anything about that particular issue will compound things for the tourist industry, and that is why we have seen people like David Marshall and other leaders in the tourist community say it is a difficult time. It is further compounded by the fact that the spending today has benefits 12, 18, 24, 36 months from now. As expenditure is cut and then ramped back up, it does take time for that funding to have its impact.
So I think the prognosis for the industry is not necessarily good. It is compounded now by the fact that the government is going to put some money back into the industry. We see some initiatives. The list is quite interesting. There is an enhanced stall for the Tourism Exchange; the science festival gets some money. We have got things like bringing a World Rugby League cup match to Canberra; we have got some additional money for a portable tourist information booth; and of course there is now $250,000 to look at the issue of the new convention centre.
I remember being at a Tourism Industry Council awards night back in December 2001 when the then tourism minister, Mr Quinlan, said, “By this time next year”—that is, December 2002—“there will be a decision on the new convention centre.” Unfortunately, that has not happened. Given the time that will be required to actually get a new convention centre off the ground, which is a minimum of three or four years, it is still some time away.
The problem now is that, with the cuts of the Rudd government to the Burley Griffin legacy, I think you would have to agree, Mr Speaker, that any activity in the West Basin is unlikely. In fact, until we resolve what will happen on Constitution Avenue, it is going to be difficult on that site as well. And it is a shame that the Rudd government has reneged on a deal where the territory handed over property in exchange for expenditure on works and those works are not going ahead. I wish the government well in getting the Rudd government to acknowledge they have a moral obligation as well as, I believe, a legal obligation to honour the commitment of the former government.