Debates Day 3 - Thursday 19 November 2015
Parliamentary Record 24
Debates for 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Thursday 19 November 2015 7427 input into how we will consult over the ensuing eight or nine months after that, through to about September 2016. Changes to legislation would then be required and probably would not be implemented until about January 2017. The final recommendation was to go to option two of the three options, which would take another couple of years. I highlight today that I have been advised that Hon Greg Hunt, the federal Minister for the Environment, issued a media release today. I will mention two quotes from it: The Australian government congratulates the Northern Territory Government for raising environmental standards as part of their ongoing commitment to reforming the Territorys environmental regulatory system. Further he said: Under the new system, business will benefit from a simpler and more transparent process, with publicly available assessment and approval policies and procedures, combined with the robust accreditation of government legislation and agency procedures. Madam Speaker, I encourage all members not only to read the annual report but also to have a close look at the Hawke review. I am sure they will come to the same conclusion the federal government has: that this is a great step forward for environmental protection in the Northern Territory. MOTION Print Paper Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority Annual Report 2015-16 Mr HIGGINS (Environment): Madam Speaker, I move that the report be printed. Motion agreed to; report printed. ADJOURNMENT Mr GILES (Chief Minister): Madam Speaker, I move that the Assembly do now adjourn. I will save valediction for the member for Port Darwin for another day. I advise the House about an issue of considerable concern to the Northern Territory government and to me. It is, in my opinion, one of the biggest issues facing the Northern Territory, but most people would not be aware of it. For many years, backpackers have been the backbone of the Northern Territory tourism industry, both as tourists and as valuable workers, mainly in the hospitality industry. But the Northern Territorys backpacker industry is telling me that Darwin faces a particularly grim forecast. The industry says that occupancy rates in backpacker accommodation are down by about 20% and the average length of stay is also down significantly on previous years. On top of this is the hit to the hospitality venues, which is twofold. A drop in backpacker numbers also sees a drop in patronage and expenditure at restaurants, cafs, hotels, pubs and clubs. The Australian Hospitality Association says most hospitality traders in Darwin are trading at 20% or 30% down on the previous year. Equally worrying is the fact that there a lot fewer backpackers to work in Darwins hospitality industry. The AHA reports that one popular CBD pub said they have never experienced such a shortage of backpackers applying for jobs in their 20 years of managing the venue. Apparently, backpackers are favouring New Zealand and Canada over Australia and the Northern Territory. The view within industry is that this backpacker tourism and working holidaymaker migration will only get worse. I am told that the Irish market in particular has plummeted by more than 50%, and that segment is having a big effect on the Northern Territory. There are many other countries where changes are occurring for their travel plans. The Department of Immigration figures show that in 2013-14 the number of 417 visas granted dropped by nearly 20 000, from 249 231 to 229 378. In 2014-15 it dropped again to 214 830. Big declines were also seen in the number of second year 417 visas applied for by people from Taiwan, down 20.5%, and South Korea, down 14.8%. I called a meeting with key tourism and backpacking industry people last month to better understand the issues facing the industry and to help come up with marketing solutions with Tourism NT. Tourism NT, the AHA and the backpacker industry provided me with the following picture, and it does not make for a good read. The data that Tourism Research Australia collects for the international youth market that is 15- to 29-year-olds shows visitor nights by these travellers were down 30% for Darwin for the last financial year. Further analysis showed that nights spent at international youth backpacker establishments was down 37%, while the only sector to see growth from this segment was from private accommodation. The average length of
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