Release type: Transcript

Date:

Doorstop - Movieworld, Gold Coast

Ministers:

The Hon Stuart Robert MP
Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business

E&OE-------------------------------------

Topics: Morrison Government support for tourism sector, borders opening, securing tourism sector jobs, vaccination rates

MINISTER ROBERT:

It’s wonderful to be here at Movie World, one of the most iconic tourist venues in the country, with Clark Kirby, of course, the Group CEO of Village Roadshow. Got Bugs Bunny in the background, and thousands of tourists. And it’s great to be here as a jobs minister, with a jobs announcement. That today, of course, the Federal Government and the Queensland Government jointly together in partnership have extended a further $70 million into the tourism industry, $40 million for a second round of the tourism hardship fund, and an extra $30 million in there for major iconic attractions, attractions like this. Attractions that have got revenues north of $50 million, attractions that have been down in attendance and revenues by up towards 60 to 70 per cent. Attractions that have been losing millions, attractions that were facing laying off thousands and thousands of staff. Today’s announcement guarantees thousands of jobs. It is a jobs announcement. Guarantees that going forward, of course until the national plan is met and we’re at 80 per cent, which we will start to see in the coming months. So it is a good announcement. Clark, hopefully it’s the last tourism announcement we do in the pandemic, hopefully it’s the last one. Because borders will be open, and we’ll be back to normal life. What does it mean for the park, Clark?

CLARK KIRBY:

Minister, thank you so much. And this really is an extraordinary announcement. It does secure jobs. The tourism industry, as everyone knows, has probably been – possibly the hardest hit industry throughout this whole pandemic. And it's been month after month after month of really just doing it very, very tough. This announcement does allow us to guarantee those jobs going forward. And we are very proud, as all tourism operators are. You know, as wonderful as this announcement is, we want to just be able to open our gates to all of Australia, to be able to start bringing more people on, even creating more jobs than we ever have before. Putting more investment into Queensland and really welcoming everyone from all around Australia. So thank you so much for today. This does give ourselves, all of our staff, and all of our suppliers a great deal of confidence in the immediate future.

QUESTION:

Minister, can you sort of talk us through how much Dreamworld’s getting? How long it’ll be over? How many jobs in the fund, that sort of thing?

MINISTER ROBERT:

In terms of the major iconic attractions, it'll be tiered up to $4 million based on revenue. So the lowest tier at $50 million, then progressively stepping up, it'll be available from October. The Queensland Government, of course, is administering the grants program, it’s a 50/50 between both sides of government working in partnership and in tandem. And the criteria will be available online in the coming days, and the Queensland Government will be reaching out to those iconic attractions and working with them.

QUESTION:

Is this an additional $70 million on top of the $600 million that was previously announced or part of the $600 million?

MINISTER ROBERT

It's part of the $600 million, it just provides another area by which we can guarantee, in this case, the big iconic attractions. Because when tourists come here – right here at this park – 80 per cent of tourists in the Gold Coast are from New South Wales and Victoria, 80 per cent. And with those borders closed, you can start to see the resulting downturn. This ensures that 1200 permanent part-time staff aren't laid off, it ensures this park doesn't close Monday to Thursday. And it gives confidence that as we go into Christmas, borders open, this park will be humming. 

QUESTION:

Places like the Gold Coast, you well know, rely so heavily on international tourism. Do you think we could see a situation, perhaps early next year where Queensland isn't accepting international tourists and they’re instead, going to places like Sydney?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Well, the national plan spells out quite clearly at 80 per cent, we're opening for international borders. We're opening for Australians to start to travel. And we're opening, of course, for work visas, for student visas and the like. Eighty per cent of tourists here are inside Australia, predominantly New South Wales and Victoria. But of course, we have a strong international flavour. But if we're all sticking to the national plan, I can't see that happening.

QUESTION:

Queensland is running well behind the other states in terms of its double-dosed vaccination rate. I mean, there have been predictions from the AMA that we probably won't see that 80 per cent by early next year. What could happen then to these businesses? 

MINISTER ROBERT:

Well, we all need to hurry up and get vaccinated. It's a simple rule. I took my sons last Saturday to the vaccination centre. Great, seamless process. Nice and easy. No booking. We've just got to get vaccinated. New South Wales, of course, will start to hit their 70 per cent double-dosed, they’re saying, by early October. As a nation, we're now at a circa 75 per cent first dose and 50 per cent second dose. We've just got to get there. We need to open up for Christmas. We need to allow Australians to travel for Christmas. And of course, the Tourism Minister will be up in about half an hour to talk through what all that means. 

QUESTION:

[Inaudible]

CLARK KIRBY:

Sure. Absolutely

QUESTION:

How – what’s it been like this school holidays? I mean, is – today’s probably a bit of an exception, you know, Saturday morning, but Gold Coast in general has seemed pretty quiet during the school holidays?

CLARK KIRBY:

Look, Gold Coast is quiet. So, we have – even today we do have quite a few people here. These are local, we've had great support from our local community. However, as the Minister did say, that 80 per cent of our market does come from New South Wales, particularly around these school holidays. We're so reliable on that interstate dollar. So, it’s not just us. The people that come here for our parks, they do go to the restaurants in the town, they go and fill the hotels. There is an enormous flow on effect.

QUESTION:

Is there an exact dollar figure that Dreamworld has been promised out of this grant?

CLARK KIRBY:

So, first of all, this is Movie World.

QUESTION:

God, I’m so sorry. Movie World.

CLARK KIRBY:

As the Minister said, it’s a tiered approach. But really, this does give the – an opportunity for [Indistinct]. We have an enormous amount – as you can see today, we have an enormous amount of fixed costs. We have an enormous amount of fixed labour, which we were really passionate about maintaining that fixed labour. And that – this announcement today will allow us to continue that.

QUESTION:

Are you crossing your fingers that we’ll see a bit of a boom once borders do open?

CLARK KIRBY:

Look, I absolutely am. If we look at the period between April and June, when we did have open borders in and around Australia, we saw record attendances here. Record attendances at our friend’s park up the road, or Dreamworld. Right across the Gold Coast, there was a great enthusiasm. Once Australia is all open to Australians, we will see an enormous boom, not just in our parks, but right through the Gold Coast, right through Queensland.

QUESTION:

We have seen little pop-up vaccination centres outside the footy and different tourist attractions, I mean, do you think, in a bid to get more people open and get revenue flowing here, there could be like a pop-up vaccination centre outside Movie World?

CLARK KIRBY:

I'll get onto it this afternoon. That's a great idea. Look, I'm fully vaccinated, everyone, I'm encouraging everyone. It is our one path out of this. We need to do it. We need to do it. Not just for yourselves, but for the entire community. For everyone that does rely on our borders being open and business being back to normal. As I said, we're very, very proud as all tourism operators are, and we just want the opportunity to be able to trade, employ more people, invest more into our community and move forward.