Debates Day 3 - Thursday 1 May 2003
Parliamentary Record 11
Debates for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Thursday 1 May 2003 the member for Wanguri was the second out of three Tourism ministers, and he was sacked. He was deprived of that portfolio because he was so bad at it. Now we have the new Minister for Tourism who is probably worse, but at least he has not been sacked yet, although the rumours have started to go around. The member for Wanguri promised every week that Virgin Blue would come to Alice Springs. Every time he was interviewed he said: We are working on it and the people of Central Australia would get it. I note that the minister did not have the courage to refer to the people at Yulara, who still are without another airline. However, this politician, the member for Wanguri, asserts that government was working hard. What rubbish! What absolute nonsense; you could not work in an iron lung. The fact of the matter is it was the people of Alice Springs, Madam Speaker - and I am sure you have friends and associates who signed the petition - who were very vocal, and it got to such a point that government members were clearly uncomfortable when they came to Alice Springs because they knew that the people of Alice Springs would say: When are we going to be equal to our Top End counterparts? When are we going to have a second airline? Darwin has had Virgin Blue for a period of 18 months, and the poor cousins of the deep south were deprived o f it by this government until the people of Alice Springs made it so uncomfortable for them, they were compelled to act. The government was caught out so obviously, it was really quite enjoyable to watch them squirm. Despite headlines on all of the television news services, the radio services and the Centralian Advocate - and, of course, we can all remember that marvellous front page of the Centralian Advocate: Virgin Blue, 1000 seats a week -th is government spent our money putting in a newspaper ad in the two local papers for the following week: Government welcomes Virgin to Alice. Well, what a disgrace that you spent taxpayers money on an ad like this after everybody in Alice Springs knows that Virgin Blue came to Alice Springs with no help from this government. Eventually, the people of Alice Springs learnt a very valuable lesson. They learnt that if they are to be taken seriously by this government, they need to scream from the rooftops - they need to take to the streets; they need to petition. Because whilst we have received platitude after platitude about the MacDonnell Ranges and the lovely weather this week, this government does not care about Alice Springs. The Labor Party does not care about Alice Springs; it never has and it never will. The Chief Ministers statement is an unspectacular, unremarkable document, and is really very much like the Chief Minister; that is, scratch below the surface and there is very little there. While we welcome the announcement on the Mereenie Loop Road, this document builds on CLP initiatives such as the Desert Knowledge Project, the railway, and half a dozen other things that the Leader of the Opposition referred to in his contribution to this debate. Government members know about it and I do not propose to repeat what the Leader of the Opposition said in that regard. Apart from Virgin Blue - or in addition to Virgin Blue, I should say - the government has generally failed the people of Alice Springs in tourism. They are happy to say how well they are doing, how much they care about Territorians and, indeed, the tourism industry which they know is a significant industry in the Northern Territory. However, when it comes to actually doing the hard yards, this government refuses. We have seen three ministers now who have not done enough to stimulate the industry - the second biggest revenue raiser for the Northern Territory and the biggest employer. Last month, the third and probably the worst Tourism minister, came to Alice Springs to make an announcement of a $3.8m advertising campaign. We were all terribly excited. We thought this was going to be terrific. However, this minister stood at his press conference, and members o f the public and the tourism industry were there and they said: Minister, you are too late; you should have done this six months ago. Then the minister said: We will not do television and cinema advertising; you will get that in June in the middle of our tourist season. In fact, by the reckoning of some, towards the end of the peak of our tourist season. He was also told that $3.8m was not enough. Then I see somewhere tucked away in the statement, the Chief Minister said there has been an additional $lm put into that campaign - still not enough. The minister has been caught out because he was told - and I think now he probably does know - that the $3.8m was nowhere near enough to stimulate the industry. I repeat the comments I made in the adjournment debate on Tuesday night in relation to that Sim: how much of it will be spent in Alice Springs? The Sim announcement is for the Territory in general. How much of it is going to go to the promotion of Alice Springs? That question remains unanswered by the Minister for Tourism. Another part of his you-beaut $3.8m campaign was the first part and, by far it would seem, the worst part and the part that is really turning into a farce - the distribution o f 500 000 brochures to people around the country encouraging them to come 3954
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