POSITIVE POLICY

Northern Australia: A Tourism Powerhouse

A Shorten Labor Government will help northern Australia build the tourism infrastructure it needs to harness the huge economic potential of the Asian tourism boom, creating jobs and driving growth in our regions for decades to come.

Tourism is one of the biggest employers in northern Australia and is growing. But the lack of high-quality facilities will limit Australia’s ability to capture and grow our share of the booming Asian travel market unless we invest today.

By 2030 there will be over three billion people in the Asian middle classes seeking international tourism opportunities in our region and beyond. We want them to choose Australia.

Labor will allocate $1 billion from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility to a Northern Australia Tourism Infrastructure Fund, to boost partnerships with the tourism sector and provide incentives for investment in new and upgraded tourism infrastructure across the north.

The following will be eligible for funding:

  • Projects targeting the expanding Asian tourism market.
  • Projects promoting Australia’s natural environment such as the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Eco-tourism.
  • Indigenous tourism ventures.
  • Event-based facilities including stadia and convention centres.
  • Transport and access upgrades, including for ports and airports.

Funding will take the form of concessional loans and other forms of project finance, with successful projects required to pass through rigorous selection processes. Projects will be encouraged to attract private financing in addition to grants.

Finance will be available to projects in northern Australia.

Labor will resource a renewed Department of Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism to administer the Fund. This will be a competitive process, with clear qualifying and evaluation criteria that will be the subject of prior consultation with the sector.

Because this money will be resourced from the existing Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, there will be no net impact on the Budget. The money will remain dedicated to the development of the north.

The Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund was announced over a year ago by Tony Abbott, and precisely nothing has happened since. The legislation was rushed through the Parliament in its last sitting week this year, and no new projects have been announced.

The Abbott-Turnbull Government has also cut Tourism Australia funding in real terms, abolished the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Survey of Tourist Accommodation and cancelled Australia’s membership of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation and presence at trade shows.

Labor has a proud record of investment in tourism in the north, including the Townsville V8 Supercar Event Precinct, Karratha Leisure Centre and Magnetic Island Walkway in Townsville. The former Labor Government provided matched capital investment in tourism through the T-QUAL program to 283 projects between 2011 and 2013.

Australians can’t trust the Liberals and Nationals to invest in tourism in our north. Only Labor will deliver the investment northern Australia needs to capture the amazing potential of the coming tourist boom and deliver secure Australian jobs for the future.

More information on Labor’s plan for Northern Australia tourism is available here.