Subjects: Tourism, Ballarat, Public Transport, Malcolm Turnbull
MARTIN: Thanks for your time. Why tourism, why this part of the world today?
ALBANESE: Well I’m here for two purposes today. Firstly I’m addressing the Australian Local Government Association’s roads congress. I’m doing that with my Transport Shadow Minister’s hat on, but then along with Catherine King I’m addressing a forum that we’re having with local tourism businesses here in Ballarat.
The potential for tourism here is I think quite extraordinary. There are already three and a half thousand people employed in the tourism industry. There are some 1500 tourism businesses in Ballarat, course, most of them small businesses.
And Ballarat receives about two million visitors every year, but there’s the potential for that to grow and hence the meeting today with the local businesses at Sovereign Hill, to get that feedback and how it might feed into policies that we’re developing about promotion, particularly of regional tourism.
MARTIN: Is it something that can only really grow organically, or can it be directed by government, with campaigns and a bit of other support? I just wonder how you think it has to grow.
ALBANESE: Look, government can facilitate the growth. It’s not something that can be from the top down but governments can make decisions that either assist growth or provide a hindrance to it. And measures, including provision of information like one of the concerns that we have is that the survey of accommodation that the Commonwealth used to conduct, and therefore provide that factual information to people in the sector, has stopped.
The Commonwealth Government has said that it won’t promote domestic tourism. It will just be involved in promoting Australian tourism internationally. Now, obviously that’s a primary concern but it’s also a simple fact that Ballarat is competing not just with the Barossa Valley or with regional NSW, it’s also competing with international tourist destinations as well, which is why I think there is a role for the national government in those issues.
And the other thing of course that can make a big difference to tourism is infrastructure investment and certainly the Regional Rail Link, making access between Melbourne and Ballarat so much improved is an example of a Commonwealth investment, in that case the largest ever investment in public transport, where you had a public transport project that’s made a big difference to regional areas like Ballarat and Bendigo and hence why we were very concerned that the Commonwealth Government had said it won’t be involved in any future public transport projects. Now Malcolm Turnbull has turned around…
MARTIN: I was going to say, that now has changed.
ALBANESE: Well the rhetoric’s changed, but the funding hasn’t. We still haven’t got any funding for The Metro project in Melbourne, or for any other public transport projects in Victoria. It’s good that the Government has recognised that frankly it was a very silly proposition that you would have no Commonwealth investment in public transport, but we want to see that matched with actual investment and decisions being made.
MARTIN: Anthony Albanese, we’ll have to leave it there but thanks for your time.
ALBANESE: Great to talk to you.