The Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC) has called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to personally take the reins of the tourism portfolio under an anticipated federal ministerial reshuffle before the year’s end.
ATIC executive director Simon Westaway said tourism as a current and future economic pillar should stay inside Federal Cabinet, with its recovery best served under the PM’s direct oversight.
“Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham, now in the finance portfolio, has done an excellent job in tourism’s worst-ever year due to COVID-19 and bushfires,” Westaway said.
“With the PM’s past tourism experience, we believe nobody is better equipped inside the federal government to guide our industry so heavily impacted by the virus and in bushfire recovery.
“We believe the Prime Minister taking the portfolio is innovative and necessary, as tourism’s total economic contribution and job creation can be well-driven from the very top of government.”
Westaway pointed out that many of Australia’s state and territory premiers have portfolio responsibility for tourism, which he said enables stronger partnerships between government and industry.
“The Prime Minister holding the federal tourism portfolio can also only enhance key deliberations with the states around the recovery of our visitor economy through the National Cabinet process,” he said.
“At a minimum, tourism’s seat at the Federal Cabinet table must be retained in any future reshaped ministry to keep this critical industry front and centre in executive decision-making.”
ScoMo’s stint as Tourism Australia’s managing director is, of course, well-documented, with the infamous ‘So where the bloody hell are you?’ advertising campaign launched under his watch in 2006 before subsequently being pulled.