STEVEN WRIGHT: Today, the Honourable Steven Ciobo, Minister for Tourism. Australia Commonwealth Games, that's what we're going to talk about here. Well, at time of recording, Minister, you've just come in from Australia on that 17-hour flight. That's a non-stop now, right?

STEVEN CIOBO: Correct.

STEVEN WRIGHT: Yeah. How'd you feel?

STEVEN CIOBO: I feel fantastic. I mean, it's an easy way to get to the UK and, more importantly for me as Australia's Tourism Minister, it's an easy way to get from the UK to Australia.

STEVEN WRIGHT: Yeah, absolutely, very good. I like that. That's tremendous. And, of course, we should say that you're here on the radio now but you're already back in Australia. So I'm not quite sure how that works. Now that is fast.

STEVEN CIOBO: The miracles of modern technology.

STEVEN WRIGHT: Absolutely.

SPEAKER THREE: Did you go back non-stop as well?

STEVEN CIOBO: No actually, because the flight time, we actually got to use the regular service, so to speak

STEVEN WRIGHT: Oh, that's outrageous. The Honourable Steven Ciobo MP as a member of the Liberal National Party of Queensland and the Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment. Minister Ciobo's been a Member of the Australian House of Representatives since 2001, since the 2001 Federal election, and he grew up on the Gold Coast in Australia where he currently lives with his family. Our attention, of course, is on the Gold Coast as we follow Team GB at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. And Steven's the perfect spokesperson to give us an insight into both the Games and the region. So how long have you guys been preparing for this? I mean, we've got some new buildings and some new bits and bobs, and some new stuff, right?

STEVEN CIOBO: Look, the Comm Games, it's been years in preparation and I've got to say, and I'm not just saying this to sell it, this is a statement of fact. It's coming together beautifully. It's going to be, I think, the best Comm Games that've been held. It's not sort of a reflection on past ones, it's just acknowledgment that this has really come together very well. The city is geared up for it, people are excited. We've already got teams that are rolling into the athletes' village. We've got tourists that are starting to arrive. And we're doing our best efforts to make sure we've got the best weather we can possibly have. I'm predicting blue skies and 25 degrees so.

STEVEN WRIGHT: Well, let me think. So what is it there now? It's winter, right? No.

SPEAKER THREE: No.

STEVEN WRIGHT: It's autumn.

STEVEN CIOBO: Correct. Exactly

STEVEN WRIGHT: It's autumn.

STEVEN CIOBO: It's coming off the back of summer, obviously, and now we head into autumn and then winter.

STEVEN WRIGHT: So what's going to be your mean temperature?

STEVEN CIOBO: I, you know what, the average I couldn't tell. I'll tell you what the range is. Typically, on the Gold Coast this time of year, the range is a low of about 18 and a high of about 27/28.

STEVEN WRIGHT: Cause that's important to the athletes, isn't it, really?

STEVEN CIOBO: I think you would describe it as God's own country.

STEVEN WRIGHT: Well, you have a great climate cause this is Queensland, yeah. So it's generally warm the year round. I've not been there for many years but I guess the weather is the same as it was then. So this is kind of geared up, not only for the athletes, but also for tourism and for people who want to go and see the Games.

STEVEN CIOBO: You know, the Gold Coast is one of the most popular tourism destinations in Australia. It's really big with Aussies who want to go and have a holiday. Of course, I've got a home team advantage insofar as that's where I live.

STEVEN WRIGHT: Yeah.

STEVEN CIOBO: And so I'm very happy to talk about it. But population is 650,000. You know, we have more waterways, more canals than Venice. We have beautiful crystal white sand beaches, the waves roll in, the sky's blue. The men are all better looking than me. The women are all very good looking.

STEVEN WRIGHT: Are you sure?

STEVEN CIOBO: I don't know what else I can tell you ... food's amazing, they'll feed you grapes.

STEVEN WRIGHT: Yes, I've seen that.

STEVEN CIOBO: So there's lots of compelling reasons for you to want to come.

SPEAKER 3: Do you know, I had two days in Surfers' Paradise. It wasn't quite like that, but it was very nice.

STEVEN WRIGHT: If he says it's like that, that's what it's like.

SPEAKER 3: Well, I'm going to go back very shortly, obviously. How important is it for the region to have the Commonwealth Games there?

STEVEN CIOBO: You know, it's been a big boost. So one of the reasons I was excited about supporting it right from the get go is because it's also transforming for the city. And what that means, we want to make sure that athletes have a world class experience. We want them to be able to break records, to do the best that they can possibly do. But also, as anyone  knows, when you pay your rates or you pay your taxes, you don't want it to be about just ten days of the Commonwealth Games, or whatever the event is. You want it to be about lasting infrastructure. And that's what we've been able to really put a lot of focus on and we've seen some funding into some really important infrastructure around, for example, public transport. We've got a light rail system in place. That's been fantastic. But now we've also got some absolutely world class sporting facilities and that's going to be there for the kids, for future years, for Asian region sporting championships, all these types of things. So it's going to be transformative.

SPEAKER 3: It's important to get that right because we've had that with the Manchester Commonwealth Games and, of course, with the Olympics in London in 2012.

STEVEN CIOBO: And, you know, we also learned a lot from Glasgow from the last Comm Games, which by all accounts was absolutely superb. So, we took a lot of lessons from that, borrowed a lot of the IP, a lot of the knowledge and experience, and now we're applying it in our context.

STEVEN WRIGHT: Sometimes it's about stadia isn't it, that have a multi-use and that's sometimes the mistake that certainly with the Olympics, wherever it happened to be, they said, "Oh yes. Well, we can't do track on that because it's not big enough. But we didn't make it like this."

STEVEN CIOBO: We have now, what's called Metricon Stadium, which will be the home end of the opening and the closing ceremonies and, of course, the track and field, and all those types of things. I mean, it's a brilliant venue. It's home of the Gold Coast Suns our local Aussie rules football team, now everyone's probably tuning out, going 'what is Aussie rules we don't understand', but that notwithstanding, I mean, it's just a really good venue. My message is, if everyone's passionate about sport, people love sport. If you love, and you've never taken the opportunity to come to Australia, what a perfect excuse. I mean, you can get there easier than it's ever been.

STEVEN WRIGHT: Yeah.

STEVEN CIOBO: The value proposition is stronger than it's ever been. In other words, it's better value than it's ever been. And we actually have record numbers of tourists coming to Australia now. And we've had really strong growth from the UK because people recognise, it's easy, its good value, and what better way to come than have the excuse of coming to support Team GB, as you said.

STEVEN WRIGHT: I sometimes watch Australian television you know I've got an app, and I love Australian television. Australian radio, by the way, some say, in terms of the evolution, is 15 years ahead of us, because you guys will just say anything on radio.

STEVEN CIOBO: I don't really know how to respond to that one but I'll take your word for it.

STEVEN WRIGHT: Okay. Just say nothing, yeah. We've already had the opening ceremony. We've had that already cause we recorded this a few weeks back, but we had the opening ceremony and it went well, apparently. Day One starts tonight on BBC One at 12:15 and then they run into the 15th of April. They'll attract an estimated 672,000 visitors, including more than 6,600 athletes, and officials from 70 Commonwealth nations. Prince Charles and Camilla were there to open the games and they have a packed schedule of engagements. Okay, let's talk sport. Beach volleyball, para-triathlon, and Women's Rugby Sevens are making their Commonwealth Games debuts. That's good to have some new stuff, don't you think? I'll do that again. That's good to have some new games, don't you think?

STEVEN CIOBO: Absolutely. Now I actually realise this is being broadcast after they'd started, so now that I know that, there's even more time, or even less time, I should say, so people should phone now to make their booking before the closing ceremony happens. But to your point with the new sports, look, it has been a good opportunity to get into a number of the new sports and they've been going spectacularly well, obviously.

STEVEN WRIGHT: Yeah. So let's just go back to talking about going to Australia. In your view, I mean, you're going to promote where you're from. The difference between the cities, it all depends on what you like I suppose and what you want from a visit. So how can you possibly promote Australia as a whole, because it's lots of different places isn't it?

STEVEN CIOBO: Look, it is, and it's not homogenous, and it's no different to the various components of the UK. I mean, there's slightly different accents, not as pronounced as it is here. But you know, Australia is really just blessed with a whole multitude of things. And I know many Brits would say, "Oh, well, hang on. We know that there's spiders and crocodiles, and great white sharks."

STEVEN WRIGHT: Yeah.

STEVEN CIOBO: But what there actually is, you've got where the rain forest meets the reef and Tropical Far North Queensland. You come to a place like the Gold Coast, which as I said, is just beautiful beaches, white sands. You go down to the sort of urban areas like Sydney and Melbourne, which are world class in their own right. I often say, Sydney's a bit more like an American city.

STEVEN WRIGHT: Melbourne's a bit like Britain?

STEVEN CIOBO: Melbourne's a bit more like a European city.

STEVEN WRIGHT: Yeah.

STEVEN CIOBO: You know, Tasmania, which is just winning awards left, right, and centre for just amazing pristine environment and some fantastic mountain walks. You go through the great food and wine in South Australia, everyone knows Aussie Reds and the famous Barossa Valley, home of Shiraz. You know, you can have just an extraordinary experience there. Western Australia, which is now home to the new direct flight from London into Perth. But also, just some magnificent country. You've got great reefs, you've got swimming with dolphins, swimming with whales, all these sorts of things. And then, finally, you've got the Northern Territory, home of Kakadu, home of Ayers Rock. So there is no reason not to experience as much of it as possible.

STEVEN WRIGHT: I desperately want to go. Not been to Australia ...

SPEAKER 3: You'll be okay on the flight. I'll get you there.

STEVEN CIOBO: I'll put an itinerary together for you. How's that?

STEVEN WRIGHT: I'm sorry?

STEVEN CIOBO: I'd even put an itinerary together for you.

STEVEN WRIGHT:  That sounds good. Thank you very much Minister.

STEVEN WRIGHT:  Do you want to pay for the fare as well?

STEVEN CIOBO: Oh, we can negotiate something.

STEVEN WRIGHT:  I've not been there for 30 years but I'd love to go back. What would you say in terms of the Games, in terms of sport, are your strongest sports, Australia's strongest?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well, I'm really pleased so far we haven't spoken about cricket, but certainly swimming is a real powerhouse for Aussies. Swimming has always been one of the areas we've done exceptionally well. For the UK, obviously track and field is very strong. And I haven't kept my eye on the latest results from the lawn bowls, but I suspect that's doing quite well too.

STEVEN WRIGHT:  Really? Lawn bowls? That's great. So what's your schedule, given that we did this two weeks ago ... three? ... Two weeks ago. What's your own schedule? What will you be doing during the Games? I mean, you'll be doing all kinds of stuff, right?

STEVEN CIOBO: Yeah, well, we've got a lot going on around the Comm Games. Obviously, it'll be the opportunity to see some of the elite athletes participating. But, in addition to that, we've got a venue we call Commonwealth House, which is the Federal Government and the State Government working together to showcase opportunities around trade and investment. So, obviously, for me as Australia's Trade, Tourism, and Investment Minister, I'm working closely with my state counterpart to put our best foot forward. We want to be able to drive linkages between the business communities, and sport is a great opportunity for us to come together and focus on that. Plus we've got, for example, the UK doing quite a bit in that space while they're on the Gold Coast, that's going to be a key part of the focus.

STEVEN WRIGHT: Brilliant. You'll notice, I didn't mention, as you say, cricket. Or Brexit or any other stuff. Coverage of Day One of the 2018 Commonwealth Games starts on BBC One tonight from 12:15 a.m. and there's highlights of the opening ceremony at the ... you're going to have to help me with this ... Carrara?

STEVEN CIOBO: Yeah, Carrara.

STEVEN WRIGHT: Carrara. I'll pick that up. Yeah, Carrara. Opening ceremony at the Carrara Stadium in the City of Gold Coast on BBC Two from 7 p.m. And the message here from Steven is go to Australia. Go to Australia, tour Australia, and I'm with you. I'm going to do it. And have a great Games. Thank you very much.

STEVEN CIOBO: Thank you so much. And I'm glad I got that commitment. I heard that.

STEVEN WRIGHT: Thank you, The Honourable Steven Ciobo. Thank you. Thanks for being on.

STEVEN CIOBO: Thank you.

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