AFTA View – September 2013

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Jason WestburyPushing the new Abbott Government to deliver
on travel and tourism promises

By Jayson Westbury, chief executive Australian Federation
of Travel Agents


WITH the result of the 2013 Federal Election known and a majority government now moving back into power following the win by the Coalition it will be interesting to see how the government machine changes back to a more traditional “normal”.

What I mean by this is that for the past three years we operated with a minority government that on so many occasions had the types of stories and carry-on which you would expect a Hollywood writer to come up with. But it was real life.

With Prime Minister Abbott forming a new government in the 44th Parliament of Australia the way things get done will move back to the way the majority of the people would like to see things done.

Yes, there will still be independents sitting in the lower house and there will be some negotiation in the Senate as some new and interesting individuals move into the upper house next year.

But by all accounts the Abbott Government will be able to implement the policy platform that they went to the election with and put in place the plans that the large majority of the people of Australia voted for.

For the travel and tourism industry I think this will be a good thing.

Prior to the election the Coalition released its tourism policy and in doing that they confirmed that international tourism would be elevated to the portfolio of Foreign Affairs with Julie Bishop, the deputy leader of the Liberal Party being the Foreign Minister.

The Coalition has now announced the appointment of a new Minister for Trade and Investment who is expected to carry the responsibilities for tourism policy going forward as there was not a specific Minister for Tourism announced.

While this has come as a bit of a shock to many within the industry we are not alone. For example there is no Minister for resources and energy.

What is important is that we have a senior Minister Andrew Robb implementing the lion’s share of the tourism policy. He will be the Minister for Trade and Investment. Further we will have the Foreign Minister engaged on tourism along with the Minister for Industry Ian Macfarlane. All three are Cabinet ministers and senior Coalition figures.

One of the cornerstone tourism policy announcements prior to the election was that the Abbott Government would freeze the passenger movement charge (PMC) for the first term of government. This means we have the next three years to negotiate a way forward.

The PMC was only ever meant to be a charge placed upon a passenger for the cost of the movement through our borders. So given that the Coalition’s policy elevates the importance of the travel and tourism industry, I am hopeful that the Abbott Government can be a government for tourism.

Like many of my industry association colleagues I will be pushing this new government to deliver on the promises they have made.

Jay Westbury’s AFTA View column appears monthly.