Australian Coat of Arms

Member for Blaxland

Shadow Minister for Trade and Investment

Shadow Minister for Resources and Northern Australia 

Doorstop - Cairns - Tuesday, 21 February 2017

THE HON JASON CLARE MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR RESOURCES AND NORTHERN AUSTRALIA
SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INVESTMENT

MEMBER FOR BLAXLAND

THE HON CURTIS PITT MP
QUEENSLAND TREAURER AND MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INVESTMENT
MEMBER FOR MULGRAVE (QUEENSLAND)
 

E&EO TRANSCRIPT
DOORSTOP
CAIRNS
TUESDAY, 21 FEBRUARY 2017 

SUBJECT/S: Super yachts, welfare cuts, Elton John concert, Queensland Rail

CURTIS PITT, TREASURER, MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INVESTMENT: Today I’m with Jason Clare, the Shadow Minister for Trade. It is great because later on this week, I’ll be heading to (inaudible) to meet with other Ministers for Trade and Investment. It’s fantastic to see Jason taking an interest in Cairns in far tropical North Queensland, as well as other parts of the state that he will be visiting this week.

Today I want to talk about an issue that we are seeing when it comes to attracting more super yachts to North Queensland. We know that super yachts are bypassing places like Cairns, the Whitsundays and the Gold Coast and going to other places including Fiji and New Zealand. That is because there are charter restrictions in place by the Federal Government, which I’ve written to the responsible Ministers, to ask that there be changes made. We are obviously very keen to see more super yachts coming to Cairns and broadly into Queensland because the evidence shows that around 2.5 million dollars is spent over a 12 month period by super yachts in Queensland. That is a great deal of money that can go into regional economies particularly and it’s the sort of industry that we can attract because we’ve got such great natural assets. 

Of course we are here today in Cairns talking at the Ports North offices because we are seeing fantastic things happening at the Cairns Port. We know we’ve had record number of cruise ships coming through and of course we are hoping to see more than 60 cruise ships coming through Cairns in 2017. It goes from strength to strength, but of course there is still ongoing work happening with the Cairns Shipping Development Project. That work is well advanced and we are hoping that we will be able to make announcements in the coming weeks and months to update people as to what sort of additional cruising capacity we are going to have here at the Cairns Port.

I’ll make a couple of other brief statements; we have of course seen in the September quarter last year the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for Australia dropping by five per cent. I want to say again that if it wasn’t for the strong export performance that we see out of ports like Cairns, the port of Townsville, out of Abbot Point, out of the Port of Brisbane, we would not be seeing such strong GDP numbers. It is the export story, the big success of Queensland’s exports, which is actually propping up the GDP; I think Scott Morrison needs to take a good look at what is happening in Queensland so that we can actually see how we can replicate that in other parts of Australia.

I’ll hand over to Jason to say a few words.

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INVESTMENT, SHADOW MINISTER FOR RESOURCES AND NORTHERN AUSTRALIA: Thanks very much Curtis, it’s great to be back in Cairns. Curtis and I have been catching up; Curtis has been briefing me on what the State Government has been doing here to create jobs and increasing development here in Cairns. We’ve been talking about port expansion, what that means for cruise ships here in Cairns and also the record increase in Chinese tourists here in Cairns – up by 30 per cent in the last 12 months.

The State Government is doing some very important things here in Cairns but I got to say back in Canberra the Federal Government is dropping the ball and letting down the people of Cairns.

The Turnbull Government has decided to get the Productivity Commission to put together a report to tell them what parts of Australia are doing it tough, what parts of Australia need extra help. We don’t need the Productivity Commission back in Canberra to tell you what parts of Australia are doing it tough, Central and Northern Queensland are doing it tough, and they need the attention and the support of Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal Party and the National Party.

Two years ago the Federal Government announced the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility – that is five billion dollars to invest in creating new jobs here. But two years on still not one dollar has been spent. Zero has come out of that fund already for investment here in Northern Australia. It’s just one example of the Federal Government dropping the ball.

When you look across the board, you’ll see the Federal Government has let this area down. Even though unemployment is up, we’ve still got more than five hundred overseas workers working on 457 visas here in the Cairns region.

In Parliament, the Government is now talking about cuts to pensioners and cuts to families. If those cuts go through, it’ll mean more than 14,000 pensioners in the Cairns region and more than 12,000 families in the Cairns region will have their payments cut. Pensioners will lose $365 dollars a year if they are a single pensioner and couple pensioners will lose $550 dollars a year.

If you’re a family on $65,000 a year with two kids, you’ll lose $750 dollars a year. Now that’s money that’s spent in local shops, supporting local businesses, creating local jobs and Malcolm Turnbull’s cuts and Barnaby Joyce’s cuts for Cairns are going to hurt this local community and do the opposite to what we want to do, which is increase jobs in Cairns and right across Northern Queensland.

PITT: I’ll just say one very quick thing about the very exciting announcement that has happened today around Sir Elton John. The Premier was in Mackay today to announce, with Chubb Entertainment, that Sir Elton John is going to be doing two Queensland performances – both of those performances will be in regional Queensland. I’m particularly thrilled to see of course that we have a concert that will be happening right here in Cairns at Cazaly’s Stadium. The Stadium will be able to have capacity for a 12,000 person show and that’s very exciting because between the two concerts, Cairns and Mackay, we expect an additional five thousand visitors from interstate or overseas to come into regional Queensland, to the two centres.

Why it is exciting is, of course, that people expect that the big names go to Brisbane. They expect that they go to the big convention centres and the big entertainment centres. But this time round we are seeing regional shows are being put on and of course that means that regional economies like Cairns are going to benefit. Obviously we are really welcoming this decision to make the tours in Queensland regional shows and we are very excited to see Sir Elton John, who has been an entertainer at the highest level for more than fifty years. I’m particularly excited; I’m a fan and I’ve already had a ribbing for being such a fan of Adele, so it looks like Elton John is the next on the list.

REPORTER: What did you have to do to bring Elton John here?


PITT: Well of course in any situation you’re going to be dealing with the promoters, the promoters are willing to make sure that the entertainer concerned, in this case Sir Elton, are going to be getting their best opportunity to perform. Clearly, as a State we’ve funded Tourism Events Queensland consistently at 100 million dollars a year. This sustained level of funding each year, for the next four years, so that they can put their best foot forward and work with promoters to ensure that Queensland not only gets its fair share, but to get a great outcome. In this particular case, we are very pleased with the promoter looking to put forward regional shows and from our perspective as a State Government, we very much welcome that because regional Queensland is where we need to be providing as much economic support as possible. So we are thrilled with this outcome.

REPORTER: What do you say to the Brisbane people that are a little bit dirty about missing out on Sir Elton?

PITT: Well I say to anyone, whether they are from Brisbane or anywhere else in Australia or overseas for that matter, come to Cairns, come to Mackay. You’ll get a great show and you’ll get to be able to stay a little bit longer and enjoy some of the fantastic things we’ve got to offer in regional Queensland.

REPORTER: Just some questions for Brisbane, why did you contradict the Premier deals with One Nation?

PITT: This is no doubt Patrick’s attempt to make a schism where there’s not. Let me be very clear, we will not be doing any deals with One Nation. Clearly, the Parliament will form after the next election and we’ve proven as a Government that we are able to of course work with cross benchers. That will not be the case though with One Nation, because they do not share the same values and the same principles as what this Labor Government stands for. We are being very clear and when you talk about whose making a stance here, we are with Annastacia Palaszczuk, showing great leadership. You have Tim Nicholls, who is the Opposition Leader, but is showing no leadership. I think the question here that we are asking right now is what does Tim Nicholls stand for? He can’t answer that question and I don’t think anyone else can either.

REPORTER: Consumer confidence has slumped in the wake of problems with Queensland Rail, are you worried by this?

PITT: What I am very pleased to see is that we’ve undergone a very rigorous process inquiry undertaken by Phillip Strachan, who is now taking up the role as Chair of Queensland Rail, and we have the Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, who is going to be steely in her determination to ensure that Queensland Rail is put back on track with the City Train Network in Brisbane running effectively and efficiently. I can’t think of anyone better to be undertaking that work. 

REPORTER: How critical is it that there is confidence in the public transport system?

PITT: I think it’s very important that people have confidence not only in their rail system but broader public transport system. Why it’s important of course is that people rely on it to get to work, to get to school and to get to any event that they need to. They expect that the system is reliable and shows up on time so that they can get from Point A to B and then back to Point A. Obviously there has been a significant failing within Queensland Rail and that has been laid bare in the Strachan Report.

What we are excited about is that there is a plan, a blueprint going forward which will see that change dramatically. Of course we are very excited to see people’s faith restored in the system. Like I said, Jackie Trad, the Deputy Premier and Minister for Transport is leading that work and she is well and truly up to the task.

REPORTER: Just a bit more detail on the super yacht side of things, just tell me if that’s alright?

CLARE: Yeah sure.

REPORTER: What sort of changes would we see to the regulation on charters?

CLARE: Well super yachts provide a fantastic opportunity for Cairns, for Townsville, for Mackay, for all of Queensland. It means potentially more jobs as these megaships come to Australia and they come in for repairs and for maintenance. They come in and they create Aussie jobs and that’s why what Curtis is doing, working with the Federal Government, lobbying the Federal Government for reform here is so important and from Federal Labor’s point of view, we are happy to work with the Queensland Government and see how we can make the most of this fantastic opportunity.

 

ENDS
MEDIA CONTACT: KORENA FLANAGAN 02 9790 2466

SHADOW MINISTER FOR RESOURCES AND NORTHERN AUSTRALIA
SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INVESTMENT

MEMBER FOR BLAXLAND

THE HON CURTIS PITT MP
QUEENSLAND TREAURER AND MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INVESTMENT
MEMBER FOR MULGRAVE (QUEENSLAND)
 

E&EO TRANSCRIPT
DOORSTOP
CAIRNS
TUESDAY, 21 FEBRUARY 2017 

SUBJECT/S: Super yachts, welfare cuts, Elton John concert, Queensland Rail

CURTIS PITT, TREASURER, MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INVESTMENT: Today I’m with Jason Clare, the Shadow Minister for Trade. It is great because later on this week, I’ll be heading to (inaudible) to meet with other Ministers for Trade and Investment. It’s fantastic to see Jason taking an interest in Cairns in far tropical North Queensland, as well as other parts of the state that he will be visiting this week.

Today I want to talk about an issue that we are seeing when it comes to attracting more super yachts to North Queensland. We know that super yachts are bypassing places like Cairns, the Whitsundays and the Gold Coast and going to other places including Fiji and New Zealand. That is because there are charter restrictions in place by the Federal Government, which I’ve written to the responsible Ministers, to ask that there be changes made. We are obviously very keen to see more super yachts coming to Cairns and broadly into Queensland because the evidence shows that around 2.5 million dollars is spent over a 12 month period by super yachts in Queensland. That is a great deal of money that can go into regional economies particularly and it’s the sort of industry that we can attract because we’ve got such great natural assets. 

Of course we are here today in Cairns talking at the Ports North offices because we are seeing fantastic things happening at the Cairns Port. We know we’ve had record number of cruise ships coming through and of course we are hoping to see more than 60 cruise ships coming through Cairns in 2017. It goes from strength to strength, but of course there is still ongoing work happening with the Cairns Shipping Development Project. That work is well advanced and we are hoping that we will be able to make announcements in the coming weeks and months to update people as to what sort of additional cruising capacity we are going to have here at the Cairns Port.

I’ll make a couple of other brief statements; we have of course seen in the September quarter last year the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for Australia dropping by five per cent. I want to say again that if it wasn’t for the strong export performance that we see out of ports like Cairns, the port of Townsville, out of Abbot Point, out of the Port of Brisbane, we would not be seeing such strong GDP numbers. It is the export story, the big success of Queensland’s exports, which is actually propping up the GDP; I think Scott Morrison needs to take a good look at what is happening in Queensland so that we can actually see how we can replicate that in other parts of Australia.

I’ll hand over to Jason to say a few words.

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INVESTMENT, SHADOW MINISTER FOR RESOURCES AND NORTHERN AUSTRALIA: Thanks very much Curtis, it’s great to be back in Cairns. Curtis and I have been catching up; Curtis has been briefing me on what the State Government has been doing here to create jobs and increasing development here in Cairns. We’ve been talking about port expansion, what that means for cruise ships here in Cairns and also the record increase in Chinese tourists here in Cairns – up by 30 per cent in the last 12 months.

The State Government is doing some very important things here in Cairns but I got to say back in Canberra the Federal Government is dropping the ball and letting down the people of Cairns.

The Turnbull Government has decided to get the Productivity Commission to put together a report to tell them what parts of Australia are doing it tough, what parts of Australia need extra help. We don’t need the Productivity Commission back in Canberra to tell you what parts of Australia are doing it tough, Central and Northern Queensland are doing it tough, and they need the attention and the support of Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal Party and the National Party.

Two years ago the Federal Government announced the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility – that is five billion dollars to invest in creating new jobs here. But two years on still not one dollar has been spent. Zero has come out of that fund already for investment here in Northern Australia. It’s just one example of the Federal Government dropping the ball.

When you look across the board, you’ll see the Federal Government has let this area down. Even though unemployment is up, we’ve still got more than five hundred overseas workers working on 457 visas here in the Cairns region.

In Parliament, the Government is now talking about cuts to pensioners and cuts to families. If those cuts go through, it’ll mean more than 14,000 pensioners in the Cairns region and more than 12,000 families in the Cairns region will have their payments cut. Pensioners will lose $365 dollars a year if they are a single pensioner and couple pensioners will lose $550 dollars a year.

If you’re a family on $65,000 a year with two kids, you’ll lose $750 dollars a year. Now that’s money that’s spent in local shops, supporting local businesses, creating local jobs and Malcolm Turnbull’s cuts and Barnaby Joyce’s cuts for Cairns are going to hurt this local community and do the opposite to what we want to do, which is increase jobs in Cairns and right across Northern Queensland.

PITT: I’ll just say one very quick thing about the very exciting announcement that has happened today around Sir Elton John. The Premier was in Mackay today to announce, with Chubb Entertainment, that Sir Elton John is going to be doing two Queensland performances – both of those performances will be in regional Queensland. I’m particularly thrilled to see of course that we have a concert that will be happening right here in Cairns at Cazaly’s Stadium. The Stadium will be able to have capacity for a 12,000 person show and that’s very exciting because between the two concerts, Cairns and Mackay, we expect an additional five thousand visitors from interstate or overseas to come into regional Queensland, to the two centres.

Why it is exciting is, of course, that people expect that the big names go to Brisbane. They expect that they go to the big convention centres and the big entertainment centres. But this time round we are seeing regional shows are being put on and of course that means that regional economies like Cairns are going to benefit. Obviously we are really welcoming this decision to make the tours in Queensland regional shows and we are very excited to see Sir Elton John, who has been an entertainer at the highest level for more than fifty years. I’m particularly excited; I’m a fan and I’ve already had a ribbing for being such a fan of Adele, so it looks like Elton John is the next on the list.

REPORTER: What did you have to do to bring Elton John here?


PITT: Well of course in any situation you’re going to be dealing with the promoters, the promoters are willing to make sure that the entertainer concerned, in this case Sir Elton, are going to be getting their best opportunity to perform. Clearly, as a State we’ve funded Tourism Events Queensland consistently at 100 million dollars a year. This sustained level of funding each year, for the next four years, so that they can put their best foot forward and work with promoters to ensure that Queensland not only gets its fair share, but to get a great outcome. In this particular case, we are very pleased with the promoter looking to put forward regional shows and from our perspective as a State Government, we very much welcome that because regional Queensland is where we need to be providing as much economic support as possible. So we are thrilled with this outcome.

REPORTER: What do you say to the Brisbane people that are a little bit dirty about missing out on Sir Elton?

PITT: Well I say to anyone, whether they are from Brisbane or anywhere else in Australia or overseas for that matter, come to Cairns, come to Mackay. You’ll get a great show and you’ll get to be able to stay a little bit longer and enjoy some of the fantastic things we’ve got to offer in regional Queensland.

REPORTER: Just some questions for Brisbane, why did you contradict the Premier deals with One Nation?

PITT: This is no doubt Patrick’s attempt to make a schism where there’s not. Let me be very clear, we will not be doing any deals with One Nation. Clearly, the Parliament will form after the next election and we’ve proven as a Government that we are able to of course work with cross benchers. That will not be the case though with One Nation, because they do not share the same values and the same principles as what this Labor Government stands for. We are being very clear and when you talk about whose making a stance here, we are with Annastacia Palaszczuk, showing great leadership. You have Tim Nicholls, who is the Opposition Leader, but is showing no leadership. I think the question here that we are asking right now is what does Tim Nicholls stand for? He can’t answer that question and I don’t think anyone else can either.

REPORTER: Consumer confidence has slumped in the wake of problems with Queensland Rail, are you worried by this?

PITT: What I am very pleased to see is that we’ve undergone a very rigorous process inquiry undertaken by Phillip Strachan, who is now taking up the role as Chair of Queensland Rail, and we have the Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, who is going to be steely in her determination to ensure that Queensland Rail is put back on track with the City Train Network in Brisbane running effectively and efficiently. I can’t think of anyone better to be undertaking that work. 

REPORTER: How critical is it that there is confidence in the public transport system?

PITT: I think it’s very important that people have confidence not only in their rail system but broader public transport system. Why it’s important of course is that people rely on it to get to work, to get to school and to get to any event that they need to. They expect that the system is reliable and shows up on time so that they can get from Point A to B and then back to Point A. Obviously there has been a significant failing within Queensland Rail and that has been laid bare in the Strachan Report.

What we are excited about is that there is a plan, a blueprint going forward which will see that change dramatically. Of course we are very excited to see people’s faith restored in the system. Like I said, Jackie Trad, the Deputy Premier and Minister for Transport is leading that work and she is well and truly up to the task.

REPORTER: Just a bit more detail on the super yacht side of things, just tell me if that’s alright?

CLARE: Yeah sure.

REPORTER: What sort of changes would we see to the regulation on charters?

CLARE: Well super yachts provide a fantastic opportunity for Cairns, for Townsville, for Mackay, for all of Queensland. It means potentially more jobs as these megaships come to Australia and they come in for repairs and for maintenance. They come in and they create Aussie jobs and that’s why what Curtis is doing, working with the Federal Government, lobbying the Federal Government for reform here is so important and from Federal Labor’s point of view, we are happy to work with the Queensland Government and see how we can make the most of this fantastic opportunity.

ENDS
MEDIA CONTACT: KORENA FLANAGAN 02 9790 2466