Besides causing most Aussies to frantically Google whether they’re eligible for the cash payments splattered across headlines this morning, last night’s unveiling of the federal budget has some hefty implications for tourism.
As Minister for Tourism Dan Tehan was quick to point out, there’s $146.5 million earmarked in the 2022-23 budget for tourism.
The rest will be spent on $6.8 worth of funding for the government’s THRIVE 2030 long-term strategy for tourism recovery, including $2 million for a visitor economy online employment and skills platform and $4.8 million for Tourism Research Australia.
The government also plans to boost the number of Working Holiday Makers through a one-off 30 per cent increase across all country caps in 2022-23 to help retail, hospitality, tourism and hotel operators tackle workforce shortages.
Aviation appears to have lost out, though, as pointed out by Robyn Ironside in the Cairns Post, with a range of support programs scheduled to come to an end as well as aviation’s noticeable exclusion from fuel cost relief as oil prices continue to soar.
The government also failed to include a national plan for aviation, which the Transport Worker’s Union (TWU) said will slow recovery for the industry.
The union said the absense of new funding left the industry exposed to external shocks like covid variants, exorbitant fuel costs, natural disasters and international unrest.
TWU National Assistant Secretary Nick McIntosh said Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been MIA for the past two years as aviation was thrown into a tailspin.
“He’s doled out corporate welfare so his mates can bank outrageous executive bonuses at the same time he deliberately excluded ground crew from targeted aviation support,” McIntosh said.
“Aviation families flicking through the Budget Papers would be disappointed but not surprised: yet again, the Prime Minister’s refused to commit meaningful funding to support aviation’s rebuild.
“The Federal Budget provides no blueprint to shore up aviation’s long-term future, particularly as we stare down future variants and international tension. It’s yet another reminder that Scott Morrison is no friend of aviation workers.”
The Australian Hotels Association (AHA) has also signalled its disapproval, reporting the budget “fails the pub test”.
AHA pointed out the government also ignored calls for a cut in beer excise, meaning Aussies will continue to pay the fourth highest draught beer taxes in the world.
AHA National CEO Stephen Ferguson said the Association’s 5000 members, 250,000 workers and millions of patrons would feel let down.
“The way we are going draught beer poured at a pub is becoming a luxury item,” Ferguson said.
“A hidden beer tax doesn’t pass the pub test and it was great so many backbenchers agreed with us.”
More than 20 backbenchers supported the move to cut the tax by 50 per cent.
The business travel sector appears to be a winner though, according to Tom Walley, Flight Centre’s corporate travel boss.
Walley said the budget’s $5.6 million investment into a dedicated small business unit in the Fair Work Commission will provide tailored support to small businesses and reduce time, cost, and stress.
The Government is also providing $8 million to the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman to work with service providers to offer business planning, capacity building and financial literacy.
“SMEs are the backbone of the Australian economy and there’s no doubt this sector will play a vital role in leading this country’s economic fightback going forward,” Walley said.
“We’ve been the biggest supporters of SMEs for more than 25 years and we’re proud to be able to facilitate travel for those who want to get back to face-to-face – the chocks are off and we can fully focus on returning to a form of normalcy now the fear of lockdowns and restrictions have subsided.”