Interview with Leon Compton on ABC Northern Tas - Bruny Island tourism announcement

21 April, 2016

Subjects: Bruny Island tourism funding, Liberal Senate pre-selection ticket

COMPTON: First up, Senator Richard Colbeck is the Federal Tourism Minister - a man recently demoted to fifth on his party's Senate ticket and a man with some news on funding for Bruny Island tourist operations today. Senator, good morning to you.

COLBECK: Good morning, Leon.

COMPTON: And thank you for talking with us this morning. Look let's start with Bruny Island, we'll move on to the Senate ticket in a moment or two. You have some news today on funding for two tourism operators on Bruny, what is it?

COLBECK: That's correct, so just under half a million dollars for Pennicott Tours at their Adventure Bay multi-tourism centre, to fund stage one of their five year plan to develop the facility there and a $149,500 project that we're giving $74,750 to for Bruny Island Cheese to expand their cellar door.

COMPTON: Um, Mr Pennicott must be running one of the most profitable businesses in Tasmania. Why Senator, are we giving him money to help him do that?

COLBECK: Well he's putting up good projects that will increase employment and I think there is something like 50 jobs that goes with this project, so we are investing in infrastructure that will manage the supply side of our tourism growth and that is very important and I have to say that Rob also puts back.

I am aware of many of the things that he does to assist us, not just from Tasmania's perspective, but also a national perspective to promote tourism here in Australia and internationally and he does that without imposing costs on the system. So he is someone who contributes as well as running a very, very good business.

COMPTON: What's this multi-purpose tourism centre at Adventure Bay going to look like when it is done?

COLBECK: Well look this is about providing additional capacity on Bruny Island. We know that there are some capacity constraints in the system and there has been some discussion about that in the media recently and it is an important part of us being able to grow the industry that we have the capacity to cater for the tourists and the people that are coming here. So that's why it is one of the streams of investment that the government supports.

COMPTON: I know that this isn't necessarily a federal responsibility, but one of the issues that we talk about on Bruny Island is the fact that the place is almost overwhelmed with the number of tourists and a lack of infrastructure, in terms of public toilets and public bins, decent camping facilities and so on - for people to use while they're there.

Is it possible that bringing more tourists to Bruny Island through what is happening with Nick Hatto and Robert Pennicott might make things worse rather than better?

COLBECK: Well I understand that the state government might be making some announcements in the not too distant future in respect to that. So they are also cognisant of the very issue which you have raised and I am on public record myself as saying that good facilities, particularly public toilets are a very important part of the tourism offering. So from what I understand of where the state government's going, I am supportive of what they are doing as well.

COMPTON: Senator, when will Pennicott Wilderness Journeys and Bruny Island Cheese get this money to start spending?

COLBECK: Well look, as I understand it, they have already started work on their projects. So we are announcing the funding today, so these are projects that are actually being constructed, the work has started. We can see the results of that very quickly.

COMPTON: It is good to have you on the program this morning. We haven't spoken to you since the news a couple of weekend's back that you had been demoted to fifth on your party's Senate ticket. Why did that happen, Senator?

COLBECK: Well it's a result of a process I put myself forward through. I made my case as did everybody else in the field, that's where the numbers fell.

COMPTON: I am recalling a conversation that we had with a gentleman from Southern Tasmania; I think his name was John Davis, who used to be one of the 65 that voted. He has described the process by which you were demoted as a disgrace. I think he used the - potentially described it as madness.

What is going on with the 65 people that were put up to vote for the Senate ticket?

COLBECK: Look, I am not going to run a commentary on the process, Leon. I submitted myself to the process, I knew how it worked. I have sat around table on pre-selection panels before, becoming a member of parliament.

I think I got quoted in the Advocate correctly this morning in saying that I have had my successes and my disappointments at pre-selections. My job now is to ensure that I maximise the Liberal vote, so I get re-elected. That's the job that I have to do now.

COMPTON: Is this a punishment for supporting Malcolm Turnbull in the leadership? Was it a sign of the strength of the conservative or the Tony Abbott-supporting elements of the state party?

COLBECK: Look, I don't see it as a punishment or a reflection on my general philosophy. I have got a lot of good friends and friendships within the party. It is the way the numbers fell. You know we can look backwards all we like, my job now is to make sure that, as I said, that I maximise the Liberal vote.

I can only trust that the electorate will support people who have achieved on behalf of them and then to work to ensure that my other friends and colleagues, Brett Whiteley, Andrew Nikolic and Eric Hutchinson get re-elected and that we get our Denison and Franklin candidates in the best possible position to win their seats.

So I will be with Amanda-Sue Markham today down on Bruny Island and working to give her a good chance to win that seat too.

COMPTON: Is it acceptable in 2016 Senator, to have an all-male ticket when it comes to winnable Senate spots for major political parties?

COLBECK: Oh look Leon, I think it is quite clear that that is a weakness that we have. I have recognised that over a period of time. I have done some work with bringing some of my senior female colleagues down to encourage women to get involved in the party, to understand how the system works and to contest pre-selection. But it is clearly, something that we need to do better.

COMPTON: Good to talk to you this morning. Thanks for being part of Mornings.

COLBECK: Thanks very much Leon.

COMPTON: Senator Richard Colbeck, Federal Tourism Minister. Significant grants announced today, almost half a million dollars for Rob Pennicott's Adventure Bay operations for a multi-purpose tourism centre and then for Bruny Island Cheese, more at their - I don't know what you call it when it's a cheese place, it's like a cellar door but it's a cheese door, if you know what I mean. And so they'll receive money there too.


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