Minister Frydenberg's tourism round table: summary
Written on the 27 May 2016 by Jael Napper
The Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia, the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP, alongside federal Member for Durack, Melissa Price MP, this week paid a flying visit to Broome, spending time to speak with tourism operators discussing barriers to the destination's businesses.
The Minister started the meeting by offering an update on the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) which was recently passed the Parliament which will offer $5 billion in concessional finance toward the construction of key economic infrastructure in the North. Led by a Board of seven with WA's Sharon Warburton as Chair, the NAIF could be a crucial link toward the funding of much needed infrastructure that opens Broome to endless opportunity. Minister Frydenberg was keen to learn about the Regional Growth Centre plan by the WA government and will advise the Board of the NAIF that they should consider recommendations in Broome's plan for federal support.
The Minister discussed Broome's geographical proximity to Asia, with the group suggesting it's the missing link in the West for international flights to complement Darwin and Cairns. Broome is extremely close to 200 million people in Asia yet inbound tourists comprise of 80% domestic travellers with the international component from mainly western countries. A direct flight from Singapore being the best option to open Broome to the Asian tourism market was tabled. In response the Minister referenced a recent agreement with Singapore who is investing $2billion in military training facilities in Townsville, with 14,000 of their military personnel to be based in the regional town underpinning the likelihood of a direct flight to Asia. He suggested that Broome writes formally to Melissa Price and his own office to discuss opportunities under this new agreement.
Infrastructure investment to better accommodate the 5-star cruise operators from Broome was discussed, whose passengers might be embarking their luxury cruise alongside cattle within very industrial surrounds. The Minister noted that Broome could consider working with the state government to put forward an application through the NAIF in order to fund a boat harbour facility to cater to this sector of the market.
The cost of freight and flow on affects to costs of businesses supporting tourism is a topic that seemed to resonate in the group. The Minister suggested that the group consider priority options for developing Broome and to then engage with Melissa Price and his own office about how to progress those priorities.
The much discussed Backpacker Tax was raised with all in the room concerned about its inevitable affects to both tourism and horticulture industries. An accommodation operator mentioned the vast amount of 457 visas he has to apply for in order to retain middle management positions which might not be considered 'otherwise unobtainable skill' in metropolitan areas. The Minister suggested the operator write to Melissa Price outlining these concerns to be presented to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection for consideration. He also mentioned a decision on the Backpacker Tax has been deferred for another six months to allow more time for consideration.
Attended by 25 Broome businesses and hosted by Member for Durack Melissa Price MP with the Broome Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The productive one hour meeting resulting in Minister Frydenberg and Melissa Price collating a targeted list of actions to be followed up by government.
Image: Shire of Broome & Melissa Price MP also met to discuss aquaculture, agriculture and developing Broome (@JoshFrydenberg)
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