By Anthony Albanese MP, Australia’s Shadow Minister for Tourism
Australia’s Trade Minister Andrew Robb has admitted his colleagues trashed a survey relied upon by potential tourism investors without even bothering to seek his advice.
In the months since it was announced that the Survey of Tourist Accommodation would be abolished, Mr Robb has failed to have the funding reinstated despite industry warnings that the sector is exposed to unacceptable uncertainty without it.
In an answer to a Question in Writing Mr Robb responded “No.” when asked if he was informed of the decision prior to the announcement by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on June 5 this year.
The Survey of Tourist Accommodation has been running for more than 40 years and provides essential information for investors as well as helping Australia’s 280,000 tourism businesses with planning and decision-making.
“It’s hard to say Australia is open for business without providing the basic tools that allow potential investors to assess the market and make sound decisions” peak body, the Tourism and Transport Forum, said in a media statement earlier this year.
It is bad enough that Andrew Robb has no idea when key developments affecting an industry he purports to represent occur.
It is worse that after the decision was made he has repeatedly refused to back our tourism sector, nominated by Deloitte as a key driver of jobs and prosperity over the next 20 years.
Mr Robb has spent the last year justifying his Government’s abandonment of the industry, which employs one million Australians, claiming to have been working hard to secure foreign investment for major projects.
One year later, there is little to show for it.
For more than 12 months Australia’s tourism industry has been desperately trying to engage Mr Robb with the issues that matter, only to have their concerns brushed aside time and time again.
This is not good enough.
It is clear that Mr Robb is not willing to fight for the needs of Australia’s tourism industry.
Tony Abbott should appoint a Minister for Tourism who will.