Doorstop at Tasmanian Tourism Industry Conference, Launceston

12 May 2016

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. SENATOR RICHARD COLBECK, MINISTER FOR TOURISM AND INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION

DOORSTOP AT TASMANIAN TOURISM CONFERENCE
LAUNCESTON, TASMANIA

Topics: Cradle Mountain Masterplan, Tourism Australia, backpacker tax, Murray Goulburn.

EO&E...........................................................................................................................................

SENATOR RICHARD COLBECK:

Well it's fantastic to be here today at TICT Conference and particularly to share the stage with the Premier, my fellow Tourism Minister at a State level, and to see the excellent state of the tourism industry in Tasmania.

As we saw from the presentation from John O'Sullivan from Tourism Australia, we're actually leading the way in innovation and the product that we're offering and the fact that if you talk to people internationally, experience is the new star rating and experience is what Tasmania has in spades. That's what's being offered and so to see such a strong presence here today from the industry themselves is wonderful.

I congratulate Daniel on taking over as chairman from a stalwart who's been there for 16 years in Simon Currant and who in fact in a certain way actually tells the story of the growth of the industry in Tasmania over the last couple of decades. He's someone who's put so much of himself into the industry and really providing strong leadership that's now starting to demonstrate in the fact that Tasmania's the flavour of the month, not only nationally but internationally.

JOURNALIST:

You talked about the Cradle Mountain Masterplan; will the Coalition make a funding commitment to that?

SENATOR RICHARD COLBECK:

Well we're working, as the Premier said, very closely with the State on the concept that's sitting there for Cradle Mountain. I agree it is a fantastic project. We've already started the process of seeing whether we can assist with finding an international investor through our processes at Austrade. We think that's an important part of the process and it's going to take significant investment from the private sector for this project to go ahead.

We're working in a coordinated way with the State - we're not running around through the election campaign throwing away a fist full of dollars like the Opposition is at the moment announcing hundreds of millions of dollars in locations all over the country in a desperate bid to win votes.

We'll make strategic decisions for the state in consolations with the State Government. We acknowledge that they have indicated that they need to play their part and there's every likelihood that we will have to play our part - but we're also working constructively with the state and through our opportunities to try to find some private sector investment which is going to be very important for this project because it's going to need at least $100 million and that's a large amount of money.

JOURNALIST:

How much do you see the federal government contributing as playing their part in this project?

SENATOR RICHARD COLBECK:

Look, I think that's a great question, and one of the opportunities that I think our approach will bring is that once we sit down with a potential investor with the state, we can all work out what we respectively need to put in.

Now, obviously there are some figures that have been supplied as part of the Master Plan project, but when we sit down with a project proponent, someone who is prepared to put their own investment into the project, we can then work out what they might require of us, and I think that's a sensible approach rather than just turning up with an amount of money to see what that might bring.

I think our approach is strategic, it's working with the state government, it's working with investment and the sector to come up with the best result for Cradle Mountain.

JOURNALIST:

How many investors have you got on the cards at the moment?

SENATOR RICHARD COLBECK:

We have investment specialists that work through Austrade globally, so it's not about having a list of investors, but they talk to people on a global basis regularly in a number of sectors, including tourism, seeking investment. My predecessor Andrew Robb has been very successful in attracting investment into this country for the tourism sector.

That is the network that we have, we will work within that network, so we've started the process of seeing how this project might fit into seeking an investor, but also potentially as a major project.

JOURNALIST:

Is there a deadline to that talking?

SENATOR RICHARD COLBECK:

Look, I don't think that's something that you put a deadline on, you need to be working and talking to the investment community, seeing what they're looking to achieve. This is a significant opportunity in my mind, this is a special site not only in a Tasmanian context but a national context, and it's one that's recognised globally.

I think it's a special site; it has important opportunities for both government and the private sector, and obviously more broadly for industry. So I don't think it's a matter of putting timelines on things, I think it's a matter of utilising good process to get the best result for Tasmania.

JOURNALIST:

Will it happen before the election?

SENATOR RICHARD COLBECK:

I actually don't think it does need to happen before the election, I think it's a matter of going through proper process. We need to get the best result out of this opportunity for the tourism industry here in Tasmania, for Tasmania, not just for the North-West Coast. As I said this is a special site nationally, and it needs to be recognised as that, and we need to make sure that we treat this opportunity, and it is a significant one, responsibly.

JOURNALIST:

You led a federal government review of the backpacker tax, you made alternative recommendations that haven't led to changes. Are you disappointed by that?

SENATOR RICHARD COLBECK:

That process is still open and we will be making further announcements on that in the coming weeks. Obviously we have the mark of the 1st of July in front of us as the commencement date for the new rate but stay tuned; there will be more to be said about that.

JOURNALIST:

So will it begin on the 1st of July?

SENATOR RICHARD COLBECK:

Well you'll have to wait and see what the announcement is.

JOURNALIST:

Why are your senior government colleagues so reluctant to respond to what you and the Coalition backbenchers and industry are telling them is the impact of the tax?

SENATOR RICHARD COLBECK:

The Government will have more to say on the backpacker tax in due course.

JOURNALIST:

You're a North-West Senator and you're a former Assistant Agriculture Minister. What can the Coalition do to assist dairy farmers affected by Murray Goulburn and Fonterra's price cuts?

SENATOR RICHARD COLBECK:

Well that's a really tough situation for the industry at the moment and I know that the sector is, understandably, upset by the circumstance that they find themselves in. It is largely due to global market prices that they find themselves in this circumstance and I know that my colleague the Minister for Agriculture has made some comments in relation to this and I think he's on the mark.

We need to be cautious as we work our way through this. It is pleasing that the companies are offering some support to the farmers to help them work their way through it, but I think this probably has a little bit more to develop as time goes on and I'm really keen to ensure that we retain the prosperity of the dairy industry, not only here in Tasmania but nationally, it's a very important sector.

JOURNALIST:

So would you like to see the ACCC or ASIC get involved?

SENATOR RICHARD COLBECK:

Look I think there's some scope for our authorities to have a look at what's happened within the sector. I don't have any specific recommendations as to what they might look at, they are the ones with the respective powers to do that but the fact that the price has been backdated to July last year is obviously a concern and will have a major impact on the dairy sector.

(ENDS)

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