Doorstop – Cairns – Tuesday, 21 November 2017








SUBJECTS: Tourism, Labor’s Planned $1 Billion NAIF Tourism Infrastructure Fund

MICHAEL HEALLY, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR CAIRNS: Good morning everybody. I want to say a very warm welcome here in Cairns – a little bit of light cloud cover which is a bit cooler, which is nice as we come towards the end of this very hard campaign. I would like to recognise today Jason Clare, one of our federal politicians, who’s up here visiting regarding the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund. We also have Senator Anthony Chisholm, who is with us. And we have Frank Lanza. Frank is a business operator here. He’s involved in students and owns a restaurant also, and that’ll all come together very soon.

I just wanted to talk about the attracting aviation fund that the Palaszczuk Government has had in the marketplace for a number of years. Cairns was the first beneficiary. Next month we will see three direct flights from Guangzhou, with China Southern. In addition to that what we have seen is a guarantee by the Palaszczuk Government if re-elected to increase that Attracting Aviation Fund to $48 million. This is a Government that understands the importance of our Airport. This underpins a significant amount of our economy. If we’re looking at last year’s figures we’re looking at about 2.9 million visitors to Cairns, around about $3 billion generated. One in five citizens of this city is employed in tourism. I cannot mention strongly enough how just much the Palaszczuk Government understands it. And to that point when you look at what the LNP have offered it is less than half in the aviation area. So this is rather disappointing.

In addition to that we have seen a commitment to a $176 million for an expansion of our Convention centre, which we’ll be getting after, I think we’ve got the basketball coming up for the Commonwealth Games. The completion of that, that’s when we will start to see an expansion and the work will take place there.

What also is very important for us is that we will see with this aviation growth, we will see a lot more international students. Last year Cairns had 32,000 international students come here. We’ve got 16 English language colleges and two universities. One of the most important things is that as we continue to grow this sector it does provide local jobs, and we know that the visiting friends and relatives of a lot of these students is fundamental to our business going forward, particularly dovetailing into the tourism sector.

So tourism is very important, particularly for students. I’d like to hand over to Frank Lanza who will touch on some of those points.

FRANK LANZA, DIRECTOR CAIRNS COLLEGE OF ENGLISH AND BUSINESS: There’s no doubt that we live in the best place in the world. The most fantastic place in the world. Our students at Cairns College of English and Business of course love it. Our motto is study with us in paradise. The students are the ones that helped us create that motto. While students of course come here to further their education, but they spend most of their spare time visiting the reef or the rainforest and taking part in any other tourist attractions that Cairns can offer. Of course that entails more business, or more money spent locally with local businesses and of course it also entails more jobs available to locals. We welcome any opportunity or any plan that Labor has for Cairns. It’s also to be said that for each student that comes to Cairns, statistically 2.3 extra tourists come, because the students entice their family and friends to visit Cairns. Again, more money spent locally, more jobs for the locals. We definitely welcome Labor’s plan for international students here in Cairns.

JASON CLARE, FEDERAL SHADOW MINISTER FOR NORTHERN AUSTRALIA: It’s great to be back in Cairns with Michael, with Frank and with Senator Anthony Chisholm. Particularly great to be here supporting my mate Michael, who is a fantastic bloke and will be a great Member of Parliament representing Cairns, if he’s fortunate enough to win this seat in the days ahead.

There are not many people in Cairns who know more about tourism than Michael. He’s lived and breathed it most of his life and as everyone here knows, tourism is the heart and soul of Cairns. One in five jobs in Cairns depend on tourism. Over the course of this year we’ve seen the number of jobs in Cairns go up, unemployment go down. A lot of that’s on the back of more jobs in tourism and the Palaszczuk Government deserves a lot of the credit for that. These incentives to encourage more airlines to land in Cairns are creating more jobs here in Cairns, because it’s encouraging more tourists to land here and spend more time visiting the reef, visiting the rainforests, spending money here in Cairns.

More bums on beaches here in North Queensland means more jobs. That’s why this $48 million fund that the Palaszczuk Government has promised is good news for Cairns, because it’ll encourage more airlines to come here, more tourists to come here and create more jobs here in Cairns. If you want one example of the difference between Labor and Liberal when it comes to this State election it’s $48 million that the Palaszczuk Government is promising to attract more airlines to come and land here, and $10 million from the LNP. Michael you were too generous saying that they’re only offering half, they’re only offering a fifth. This shows just how out of touch the LNP is.

We’ve already seen the evidence with airlines coming from China and South Korea landing here creating more jobs. We’ve seen a 30 per cent increase in Chinese tourists here in the last 12 months.

More tourists also create benefits for farmers, because it means we can fill the bellies of those aircraft with farm produce and get it into restaurants and supermarkets in Shanghai and in South Korea within 24, 48 hours. So it’s good news for farmers, it’s good news for tourists, it’s good news for jobs here in Cairns.  It’s not just what the Government is promising with airlines, it’s also what they’re promising with bringing more cruise ships here. The expansion of the port, the expansion of the convention centre all creates more jobs here.

Off the back of that if Labor is elected at the next federal election we’ve said we’ll invest an extra billion dollars in tourism infrastructure right across the north. From Rockhampton, up to Townsville, up to Cairns, to Darwin, right across to Broome. Because more investment in tourism infrastructure creates more jobs. We’re ranked in the top ten in terms of tourist destinations around the world, but we’re ranked 53rd in terms of tourism infrastructure. So more investment in things like airports and ports is going to help to attract more tourists here in Cairns and right across the north. The comparison with the Libs couldn’t be clearer.

Just one more point, and that’s on Labor vs the LNP. If you vote LNP on the weekend, what you’ll get is what you get in Canberra at the moment. Because effectively what we’ve got in Canberra at the moment is an LNP – One Nation Government and all the cuts and all the chaos that brings. Cuts to health, cuts to education, cuts right across the board and all the chaos that we see on a daily basis. The latest being this Government is now so terrified they won’t even let Parliament sit. If the LNP wins the next election and governs with One Nation you can expect more of the chaos and dysfunction that we see in Canberra today, replicated in Queensland tomorrow.

JOURNALIST: On electricity prices and cost of living, the LNP was standing up today saying essentially Labor’s not doing enough in that area and that their policies stack up a lot better. What’s your response to that?

HEALY: I haven’t seen their policy so I’ll reserve any comments relating specifically to that. What I do know is that if people were to remind themselves of what happened when Tim Nicholls was the Treasurer and Campbell Newman were elected. The unemployment. There was a lack of funding in a vast range of areas, including community services which are essential. We talk about some of the law and order challenges we have – and we recognise those – this is a Government that took money from them. Money was taken, people were made unemployed. So when they’re talking about welfare, I must say like a lot of people I’m very sceptical about that so I’ll have a look at the details and get back to you on that.

JOURNALIST: You mentioned the convention centre. There’s been a few people squawking about it this morning about it might intrude onto the port land. Have you heard any more on that?

HEALY: At this stage there is a review going on. It’s going to be subject to, there’s an integration taking place in that area. But I haven’t heard any details. But I would be confident that we can also see that we’re spending, this Government is spending several million dollars out at Smithfield and people are squawking about that also. I think we need to get the science and have a look at it. But at this stage nothing’s locked away except the fact we are spending that money on that expansion, because we know that generates $80 million a year for our region. It generates jobs. Obviously the most important thing, the more tourists we can get here, the more conventions we get here. We fill those hotels; they’re a trigger for further investment in our region. 

JOURNALIST: Cairns is a tertiary education paradise according to Frank. Why won’t the southern universities come and try to open a campus’ here yet. Is that going to happen?

HEALY: I’m waiting to see what is going to happen. Obviously at this stage we have two universities. We have seen a third university buy one of our English language colleges of recent. I’m not aware of their plans, except obviously they’re going to operate that. But what I can say is that Cairns is within eight hours flying time to 40 million students who are looking for a quality, safe and more importantly affordable education and university education. Cairns provides that. We are strategically better placed than any other city on the east coast of our Commonwealth to be able to capitalise and grow our city into an education hub. I’m confident that there will be other universities eyeing Cairns off knowing that we have a fantastic piece of infrastructure, which is our airport, and with that airport that gives us the essential hook in which we can go into the Asia Pacific area and grow our education sector here. 


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