STEVEN CIOBO: The value of Australia's tourism industry is critical to the 600,000 people that are employed in Australia's tourism industry. It's a now $41 billion export industry, a $135 billion in value across the economy. With 600,000 jobs at stake, it's critical that we continue to drive this industry. I'm pleased the Coalition is providing record funding to Tourism Australia, and that record funding means we're seeing a record number of tourists staying for a record length of time, spending a record amount of money. We've seen particularly strong growth from the China market. In the new Dundee campaign in North America, headlined of course by Chris Hemsworth, will help to drive even more tourists to Australia, and helps to grow the number of jobs in the tourism industry. I'm really pleased that we've been able to announce a new $12 million Boosting Business Events Bid Fund, which will be made available to ensure that the business events sector has access to funding to help provide additional incentives for major international business events to come to Australia. Business event tourists are important. We know on average they spend twice as much as a leisure tourist. We also have these high levels of dispersal into regional centres from business events as well. And if we can also encourage and entice those that are coming to business events to be able to have for example, a partner, or a family member or someone else travelling with them as well, we can really grow this very lucrative segment of the Australian travel industry. So, let's make sure that we continue to invest in tourism, continue to grow the numbers of tourists that are coming to Australia, and continue to boost the yield, especially from the business events segment of the market, that way we can underline the importance and continue to provide support for the 600,000 that are employed in this industry. Happy to take any questions.
JOURNALIST: Minister, so, how did you arrive at the figure of $12 billion, million, it could have been five, could have been thirty, what's the significance with –
STEVEN CIOBO: Ah, well like all of these things, it's as much of an art, as it is a science. We've gotta balance all of the various competing demands across Government. Obviously you know, pretty fiscally constrained environment and we're trying to get the budget back to surplus. It's a challenge, but worked closely with John O'Sullivan and the board to make sure we could do something in a way that was consistent with what Tourism Australia was able to manage.
JOURNALIST: And how will you be distributing the money, will it be going towards associations, incentives, corporate events, is there a formula or you just playing it by ear?
STEVEN CIOBO: No, the actual development of the actual parameters around the program will be developed by the Business Events unit within Tourism Australia. They're going to work closely with of course, the business events sector to make sure that we get the maximum boost for that $12 million in taxpayers’ money that’s going into the sector. I'm particularly excited, it's the first time the Federal Government has provided this type of incentive and support for the business event's sector, so I want to make sure that we get maximum value for taxpayers and maximum return on the investment of that taxpayer money.
JOURNALIST : Minister, you mentioned inside that data, getting data from the sector is difficult, will there be sort of, more effort put in to trying to nail that down and see where this business is coming from?
STEVEN CIOBO: I think, more broadly as a general comment about tourism and data, it's difficult often to get accurate data and it's been one of the areas that I've been focused on since becoming tourism minister. Because Frankly, a lot of the methodologies that are being used were being used from the 1970’s, so paper-based surveys, those types of things. We've got tremendous potential to better utilise technology now, to look at developing more accurate snapshots of data across the industry, especially in different segments, by utilising access to some, you know, let’s call them more modern methods. Maybe we can look at what we can do with the payment system, maybe look at what with can gala offers and the hotels industry through their online resources. We’ve got a number of new approaches that we need to use. I've been working closely with Austrade, and Austrade has a project to make sure that they significantly ramp up their efforts around the collection of new, more accurate data used in these new technologies, so that’s what we're going to be doing.
JOURNALIST: And what does success look like at the end of this $12 million, what do you think would represent a really big success?
STEVEN CIOBO: I think the investment of $12 million of taxpayer funds needs to pay off in terms of a significant increase in terms of what we can see in the business events space. Whether that's in terms of the size, or for lack of a better term, the quality of a business even,t through to the frequencies of business events. All of them will be critical indicators of the success or otherwise of this program. $12 million is substantial, but in terms of government programs, a modest program, it's a good ‘dip the toe in the water’, so to speak, let's see how it works and we can make an assessment from there.
JOURNALIST: Minister, how do you think Australia should respond to white farmers in South Africa experiencing violence?
STEVEN CIOBO: Can we just see ... Is there any other business events questions?
JOURNALIST: Yeah –
STEVEN CIOBO: Come back to that one.
JOURNALIST: There are other countries that have bid funds already and Australia is historically been losing business to them, is this a measure to try to get some of that back?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well, I've been speaking to the business events sector for some time, I know that there's been a call for there to be this kind of support for industry for the Australian Government to back this business events sector. I'm pleased to have been able to deliver that together with Tourism Australia. And of course, we don't want to see an erosion of market share from Australia. That's not to say that we wanna buy market share, because clearly that's unsustainable. What we wanna do is make an informed decision about how we can use this as a marketing effort to market this segment of the industry, especially given how high yielding the business events sector actually is. Any other questions? Before we change topics?
JOURNALIST: Are there any countries specifically that you would like to target from this business from?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well, I think we can see some benefits that will flow if we see complementarities between marketing efforts that Tourism Australia’s undertaking and business events. If we can get the two to work in tandem, then I think that will be a great outcome that probably boost the numbers of tourists again.
JOURNALIST: The US potentially?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well, I'll leave that to Tourism Australia to work out together with the industry.
JOURNALIST: Just one more question, who should be getting credit for you making this decision, I saw Andrew Heibl up there from AACB, Karen Bolinger, Becker ... I think she's on the Becker or the Melbourne Convention Bureau , Lyn Lewis-Smith, was it an effort from the industry to help you make a decision on this?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well, I'm not gonna pick out any one individual, I've been talking to all of them for a number of years, we probably came true as a Minister, as you know I was heavily involved as Chairman of the Coalition Friends of Tourism, I’ve been in the tourism space for nearly two decades, so this has been a discussion we've been having for quite some time, but in the last 18 months or so, since I became Tourism Minister, I was determined to deliver on what I saw as an opportunity in this space and that's what I've done. Thank you, sorry.
JOURNALIST: No problem, yes, so how do you think Australia should respond to white farmers in South Africa who are facing violence?
STEVEN CIOBO: Anywhere where we see the persecution of people is cause for concern, obviously the Australian Government can only do so much, we have a very rigorous program in place, we have a very generous refugee program and the Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, is doing an outstanding job of making sure we retain integrity, while also being compassionate. He said he's having a close look at events that are unfolding in South Africa and I think that that's a good outcome.
JOURNALIST: Do you agree with the Home Affairs Minister that those farmers deserve special attention and potentially put access in Australia's refugee and humanitarian programs?
STEVEN CIOBO: Of course I do.
JOURNALIST: So ... But special attention, as in fast tracking those matters?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well, the actual details in terms of how the process works are better answered by the Minister of Home Affairs, not by me, I won't have the depth of knowledge about how each program actually works, but let's be frank, if we see in this case, people who are being thrown off their land, being persecuted, I've read some harrowing reports of people being shot, of rapes, of all sorts of things, then I do believe that there's a role to be played. Australia does have a very generous refugee program, we continue to provide safe haven for refugees from around the world and of course, we would also look at what we can do in this particular case.
JOURNALIST: Will you continue to export some goods to Russia, given recent events and questions around Russian sanctioned activities, do you think we should be reconsidering our trading relationship?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well, Australia's trading relationship with Russia is significantly constrained and for good reason, we have in place autonomous sanctions against Russia as well as the work we do together with United Nations. In terms of trade, the Foreign Minister and I talk regularly about whether or not we should increase or decrease sanctions, with respect to a range of different countries, depending on the circumstances at the time. Given the events of the last 72 hours or so and how things have unfolded in the UK, the Foreign Minister and I will continue to speak about what is the appropriate way to ensure that we send a strong message of our solidarity with the UK.
JOURNALIST: Just staying with trade, what advice have you received about dumping and are you satisfied that cheap Chinese products are not going to flood the Australian market?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well, the Anti-Dumping Commissioner's actually under Senator Seselja’s portfolio, but obviously as Trade Minister, he and I work very closely to make sure that Australia's industries are not going to be subjected to dumped product from overseas. We continue to see the Anti-Dumping Commission doing very good work in this space. There was something like 77 measures that the Anti-Dumping Commission has in effect, applying to Australia right now and of those 77, approximately 50 or thereabouts are in relations to steel products, so it's taking important efforts, important steps to safeguard the Australian market to stop dump products coming into the Australian market.
JOURNALIST: Just again on the farmers, are you saying that they should be given priority up and above other people who may be experiencing persecutions and violence?
STEVEN CIOBO: Let me be very clear, Australia provides safe haven for refugees from around the world. The Minister for Home Affairs is doing an outstanding job. He's looking at not only the issues with respect to farmers from South Africa, but from those who are subjected to all sorts of atrocities around the world. I think he's doing a great job with that. Australia's a very generous country, we can't solve all the world’s problems, what we can do is play our role and playing our role means that we look at those who are subject to persecution, including farmers in South Africa, of course. Thanks guys.
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