Nov 7, 2013

Abbott reneges on tourism growth

Tony Abbott is preventing job creation and increased business in the tourism sector by refusing to honour industry grants approved by the previous Labor Government.

In July Labor awarded 89 grants worth $8.5 million to tourism operators and associations under the T-QUAL program, designed to leverage investment in high-quality tourism projects and create jobs.

The grants, budgeted for in the 2013-14 Budget, were worth as much as $110,000 and offered to tourism operators on a dollar-for-dollar basis after a competitive tender process.

Earlier this week Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb confirmed the government would not honour the grants unless contracts had been finalised between the recipients and the government.

 All the grants are being reviewed by the Trade and Investment minister Andrew Robb and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, with the construction of dozens of regional tourism projects hinging on the decision.

Robb, in a statement to Travel Today, said he hoped to give clarity to the successful applicants “as soon as possible”.

Travel Weekly, November 4, 2013

The applicants already had clarity – the grants were formalised on July 23 this year under a proper competitive process and the money to fund them was allocated in the 2013-14 budget.

It makes no sense to leave these grant recipients in limbo. Tony Abbott should order Mr Robb to deliver the money so the recipients can get on with expanding their businesses and creating jobs.

Delays will do nothing but inhibit economic growth and deny communities tourism dollars.

The Abbott Government seems obsessed with revisiting decisions taken by Labor before the September 7 election, even if it means preventing job-creation.

Last week it confirmed it would withhold $150 million in regional development grants for local council infrastructure projects from the Regional Development Australian Fund.