Message from the Chair, Martin Ferguson

February 22, 2016

Making headway on key issues.

This year is an election year and that means the Federal Government’s policies and decisions will be even more open to scrutiny and opinion. This is why TAA is making a very concerted pitch to Canberra on behalf of the whole industry to ensure our interests and concerns are not only heard – but acted upon.

It would seem that we are making considerable headway on a number of fronts, particularly unregulated short-term accommodation, as well as temporary skilled employment, support of tourism in regional and remote Australia, and unfair workplace conditions.

TAA has been relentless in its campaign to expose the new commercial breed of short-term accommodation providers as ‘takers’ rather than ‘sharers’, and you will have seen a major media avalanche that has pointed out that the original idea of sharing sites such as Airbnb had morphed increasingly into a distribution channel for multi-property commercial operators who simply want to sell product without meeting their regulatory obligations.

It is important that we demonstrate clearly that we are differentiating commercial operators from the ‘mums and dads’ renting out a room occasionally for pocket money. In a pre-Budget submission paper we have stressed that it is the commercial operators – who are invariably avoiding paying fair levels of taxation and charges – that need to be regulated.

Similarly, our pre-Budget submission has stressed the areas of competitiveness and productivity. Since my time as Federal Minister for Tourism, Government has increasingly understood the value and importance of the tourism industry, but we are now calling for measures that will allow us to fulfil the industry’s potential. This particularly affects regional areas of Australia, but also cities where an unprecedented tourism accommodation development boom is not being supported by measures to boost skilled employment to ensure we provide optimum skills levels.

The other major issue that continues to affect the industry is workplace conditions. While we are pleased that our advocacy significantly contributed to the Productivity Commission’s final recommendation to bring Sunday penalty rates in line with Saturday levels, the next major hurdle will be the Fair Work Commission’s review of the Hospitality Industry Award.

With AHA, we have made a strong submission to the FWC inquiry. There will be further hearings and submissions made to the Commission till April, before the FWC deliberates and makes its final decision on whether the Award should be changed to reflect ‘modern’ considerations.

Last week the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s new ministry was sworn in.  In particular, we have welcomed the promotion of Steven Ciobo to the portfolio of Trade and Investment. Mr Ciobo has shown throughout his time in Parliament that he understands the potential of the tourism sector and its value to the economy.

In the next couple of weeks we will be in Canberra meeting with key ministers to continue to advocate on the significant industry issues outlined above.