Message from the Chair, Martin Ferguson

We end 2015 on an optimistic note. Considerable progress has been made to drive demand for hotels and both the domestic and international visitor statistics are at record levels.

At last the Federal Government has recognised the importance of tourism by building on the good work of Trade Minister Andrew Robb and appointing a dedicated Tourism Minister. Senator Colbeck has been very energetic and supportive since his elevation to the ministry.

Even in the recent MYEFO statement there was recognition that the economy was shifting away from strong resource investment-led growth to broader-based drivers of economic activity, particularly from the services sector.

There are signs that our messaging is beginning to have an impact on Government policies with an understanding of the need for more flexible temporary skilled migration arrangements, particularly in regional and remote areas.

We are conscious that the stellar performances of many capital cities haven’t always been replicated in regional and remote Australia and we are concentrating on getting that message across to Federal and State Governments. In recent months, additional funds have been made available to regional infrastructure projects, but we believe a great deal more can be done to reduce red tape and provide greater stimulus.

There are still many challenges that will be present throughout 2016. A decision on excessive penalty rates will be handed down during the year, with the Fair Work Commission set to follow the Productivity Commission and make recommendations about the future of weekend, public holiday and part time work awards. AHA, in partnership with TAA, has led the case in front of the Commission on behalf of the entire industry, and while it is an election year, and therefore Governments are nervous to take definitive action, we are confident that our case is a strong one that has resonated with businesses and employees alike.

We can also anticipate governments at all levels making more definitive statements on unregulated short-term accommodation and then following it up with action. It is being increasingly recognised that the grey areas that surrounds this sector are allowing commercial operators to evade their responsibilities at the cost of jobs, community, taxation and guest safety.

Another area of concern to members is access to skilled staff and while the emphasis should always be on developing our own talent, with the largest-ever pipeline of new hotels coming on stream, the industry needs visa liberalisation and supportive Government policies to access temporary skilled staff.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my first six months as Chair of TAA. I have had the pleasure of meeting many members during my time in the position and look forward to meeting as many of you as possible during 2016. Till then, my best wishes for a safe and fulfilling Christmas and New Year.

Martin Ferguson

Chair TAA