Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last night appointed his new ministry, which he has revised following the election. It left Australia in the peculiar position of having an Assistant Minister for Tourism, without actually having a Tourism Minister – until the appointment later in the evening of Steve Ciobo as the new Minister representing the tourism sector in Federal Cabinet.
Ciobo, the new Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, will represent the tourism sector in Federal Cabinet. He’s a Liberal Party MP representing Moncrieff, an electorate in south-east Queensland, including the northern part of the Gold Coast and hinterland.
Turnbull’s Coalition government is in power in its own right by the slenderest of margins, but counting continues in the Senate and the Minister for Tourism until yesterday, Richard Colbeck, may not retain his Tasmanian seat.
Turnbull decided not to wait for the count. “I have therefore decided not to reappoint Senator Colbeck whom I also thank for his service as a minister,” he said last night.
Turnbull added that if Colbeck did manage to hold his seat, there would be no barrier to his returning to the ministry “in due course”.
The National Party’s Keith Pitt, a former sugar cane farmer from Bundaberg in Queensland, has been confirmed as Australia’s Assistant Minister for Trade, Investment and Tourism.
The appointment of two Queenslanders as Minister and Assistant Minister responsible for the tourism sector will be interesting, especially as the battle continues between ‘Big Coal’ and the reef, rainforest and tourism lobbies.
Colbeck said yesterday he was “extremely disappointed” to be axed from Turnbull’s revised ministry.
“But I have to agree with the Prime Minister that the need to finalise a new team and the uncertainty relating to my Senate seat made it impossible to wait – the business of Government is much bigger than any individual,” Colbeck added.
“I have been very proud to have held the Tourism and International Education portfolio under Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.”
Colbeck said it had been a “real privilege” to work to continue the strong growth in the tourism sector.
Welcoming the appointments of Ciobo and Pitt, Tourism Accommodation Australia chair, the former Federal Cabinet Minister for Tourism, Martin Ferguson, said it was essential for tourism to have a voice at the Cabinet table.
“We thank former Minister for Tourism, Senator Richard Colbeck, for his enthusiastic support of the industry, and welcome Steve Ciobo and Keith Pitt to their roles of guiding tourism and hospitality towards achieving the objectives set out in the Tourism 2020 plan, which were established when I was the Minister responsible for tourism,” Ferguson said.
“It is clear that the shape of our economy is changing rapidly, with service sector industries such as tourism becoming first-tier industries with the brightest prospects for growing export earnings and creating jobs. We are currently in the most dynamic expansionary phase ever in terms of hotel construction and tourism infrastructure growth and it will be essential that the Government support the industry through positive policies and a reduction in barriers.
“The fact that a regionally-based MP has been appointed Assistant Minister is encouraging, because it is in regional Australia where we face some of the greatest challenges confronting the industry. In particular, the backpacker tax is threatening the supply of labour to regional areas and the Government needs to act quickly to confirm that the measure will be suspended permanently. It is also essential that temporary skilled migration channels are made more flexible to overcome shortages of labour in regional and remote areas, while at the same time, we are calling on government to support major training and career development programs to help fuel the industry’s expansion.
“Inbound annual growth is currently running at 9.3%, and the latest Tourism Research Australia figures predict that by 2019–2020, total overnight expenditure will reach $127 billion, which makes tourism an integral component of the trade, tourism and investment portfolio and worthy of serious consideration at the Cabinet table.”
Written by Peter Needham