Subjects: Tasmanian Tourism; Quality Tourism Framework.
PIAA WIRSU: Anthony Albanese is the Federal Shadow Minister for Tourism. He arrived not that long ago, mere minutes ago in fact, I believe for the Awards. Welcome to Drive, what will you be talking to operators about at the awards tonight?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well I’ll be talking about what they’re interested in, which is how government can actually facilitate tourism investment here in Australia and particularly in Tasmania. We know that there’s a million Australians rely upon tourism for their jobs. And tonight I’ll be announcing our support for what the sector have put themselves forward, through the Australian Tourism Industry Council, of a Quality Tourism Framework. Basically small grants, but which can really help tourism operators to develop their IT systems, to develop their marketing, to develop their skills. So that small businesses can become bigger businesses employing more people.
WIRSU: We will be headed to a Federal Election in the near future, there’s every chance you will become the Minister for Tourism out of that Election. What’s your vision for tourism in Tasmania?
ALBANESE: For Tasmania tourism is obviously absolutely vital. You have such an extraordinary natural environment. You have such an attractive range of destinations, whether it’s here in the north, or in the centre around Cradle Mountain, or whether it be your cities of Launceston and Hobart with food and wine and all that you have to offer here. It is an exciting destination and I have been very engaged with the Tasmanian tourism sector. One of the other advantages that you have is that they tend to speak on most occasions with one voice and that’s a very good thing. That isn’t always the case around the country; that really helps. So for example when we were last in government, we funded everything from bike trails here in the north, down to the Three Capes Track down in the south, and we funded upgrades to the Cradle Mountain infrastructure. We really think that tourism has an opportunity to be even a greater provider of employment here in Tasmania.
WIRSU: If your government is elected come the Federal Election that will happen in the next little while, what funding commitments do you have? What ideas do you have in mind to harness that opportunity in Tasmania?
ALBANESE: Well recently we have committed $30 million for Cradle Mountain. We’ve committed $8.8 million towards completing the North West Coastal Pathway. We have more announcements – tonight’s announcement is another $6 million – it’s a national announcement, but that has been a big priority including here in Tasmania. We think that there is much more that can be done here. And one of the things I’ll be doing while I’m here is once again talking to the sector – not just tonight but tomorrow morning as well.
WIRSU: Anthony Albanese as I’m sure you know there’s a real tension in Tasmania at the moment between expanding tourism visitation and development and on the other side environmental protection. What is your priority when it comes to tourism in the state, development or environmental protection?
ALBANESE: Look I don’t think it is a matter of either-or. I think that good development for example, there was some opposition to the Three Capes Track investment, because it was providing budget accommodation as part of that walk. But it’s now world renowned. It’s been very positive, that investment and I don’t think anyone is saying that the environment has been damaged. We need to make sure that what’s special for Tasmania, its natural environment, is protected and that any tourism proposals are sustainable, but we also need at the same time to make sure that jobs and economic activity come to Tasmania.
WIRSU: It’s 5:17, you’re hearing from the Federal Shadow Minister for Tourism Anthony Albanese. Do you have any specific policy in mind to get people out of the major cities into regional areas in Tasmania?
ALBANESE: Absolutely. One of the things that the Quality Tourism Framework is about, really, is helping not the big players in Hobart and Launceston, it’s about helping your smaller operators. If you look at the walks that are here in Tasmania, if you look at the destinations like Pumphouse Point is a great example of restoration of an old facility, at Lake St Clair there, that is quite an extraordinary accommodation precinct, one that has a waiting list of months, not just weeks. And that’s an example of a small venture, but one that has been extremely successful in the regions and gets people out of the cities.
WIRSU: So what will you, if you’re elected to government, do to help generate projects like that?
ALBANESE: Well I think that’s what the Quality Tourism Framework is about. Helping up to thousands potentially. It could develop up to 10,000 high quality tourism experiences. That will be a very good thing.
WIRSU: Just finally before I let you go, there are also community concerns in Tasmania about the lack of infrastructure to handle the increasing numbers of tourists to the state. What’s your plan to make sure that infrastructure needs keep up with the demand from tourism?
ALBANESE: Well when we were last in government, of course, we doubled the roads budget. And we had significant investment here in the north and in the north-west and I think …
WIRSU: But looking into the future, what are your plans for the future?
ALBANESE: Well our plan is for further upgrades, we’ve committed to on the Bass Highway for example. And that is obviously the critical highway. We’ve put additional money on the table for the Midland Highway to connect the north and the south as well.
WIRSU: Anthony Albanese, thanks for your time this afternoon. And as we speak to you from the airport just a few minutes off the plane Anthony Albanese is the Federal Shadow Minister for Tourism, of course a Federal Election coming up every chance that Labor will become the government, hearing about what their priorities are for tourism in Tasmania should that be the case.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.