MR ENTSCH: I rise to support this motion but more importantly in support of a critical role that Indigenous people and culture play in our nation’s tourism offerings.
It’s no more evident than in my vast electorate of Leichhardt that includes the Torres Strait, Cape York, Cooktown, Mossman, the Daintree, Kuranda and Cairns.
All of these places have a rich history in connection with Indigenous people and their amazing culture.
In fact, my electorate is the only region with two distinct Indigenous cultures: the Aboriginal and Torres Strait people.
Australia’s Indigenous culture, country, art and history are unique in today’s competitive tourism market.
My electorate is fortunate to be the home for a number of Indigenous sites and attractions including the Mossman Gorge, Gab Titui Cultural Centre on Thursday Island, the Daintree Discovery Centre and the amazing Quinkan rock art galleries near Laura, just to name a few.
Cairns is also home to Tjaukai Cultural Park, which has been closed temporarily because of COVID but I expect that it will open again in the not too distant future.
It’s also home to CIAF, Australia’s premier Indigenous arts fair that attracts people from all over the nation.
And let’s not forget the deep and spiritual connection Indigenous people have at places like Kuranda, Mossman, our Daintree Rainforest and, of course, our Great Barrier Reef.
I mention these places specifically because each and every one of them is one of several Indigenous owned and operated tourism businesses.
In fact, there are countless Indigenous tourism businesses throughout my electorate of Leichhardt offering world-class tours and experiences.
These businesses are important in that they are owned, they are operated and they employ Indigenous Australians.
What better way to experience and immerse yourself in the history and culture of these sights and attractions than with a person who has a real connection to them?
Indigenous tourism plays a vital role in supporting businesses, creating jobs and driving economic empowerment for Indigenous Australians.
Indigenous tourism, especially in my electorate, is, in fact, very big business.
People now want more from their holidays.
Instead of simply seeing the sites and flocking by the pool, people want connection.
They want a unique and authentic experience.
That’s why the Morrison government has recently partnered with the Cairns Regional Council to establish the Cairns Gallery Precinct.
One of our jewels in the precinct will be a new world-class Indigenous art gallery.
This precinct will focus on celebrating and supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and culture, while creating further opportunities for cultural tourism.
As the Cairns Regional Council Mayor Bob Manning rightfully said:
When complete, the Gallery Precinct will provide us with a number of unique quality art spaces that will attract national and international exhibitions and also showcase the works of our region’s best artists.
And we have no shortage of them.
Importantly, it will provide, for the first time, dedicated places in which to highlight our talented Indigenous artists – not only here but all the way into Cape York and the Torres Strait – and the unique artforms they create.
This exposure to the national and global stage will drive demand for authentic Indigenous art, which will increase the opportunity for career pathways and be an inspiration for our youth, especially our Indigenous youth, to pursue careers in the arts.
You see, Mr Deputy Speaker, the Morrison government understand the importance and vital role that Indigenous tourism plays in supporting businesses, creating jobs and driving the economic empowerment of Indigenous Australians.
That’s why we put some $40 million towards establishing the Indigenous Tourism Fund.
The fund aims to help Indigenous tourism businesses capture a share of the Australian tourism market.
As I mentioned earlier, Australian Indigenous culture is a point of differentiation in our tourism market and provides an important source of employment and economic opportunity, particularly in regional and remote areas of Australia.
The four elements of the tourism fund are designed to deliver complementary support through grant funding to enhance capability and facilitate Indigenous tourism sector leadership.
It includes $12 million for tourism grants, $10 million for Indigenous business, $10 million towards the National Indigenous Tourism Mentoring Program, $17 million towards strategic Indigenous tourism projects and a million dollars towards an Indigenous tourism advisory group.
The Indigenous Tourism Fund will also complement and ensure indigenous businesses are well placed to benefit from the $1.2 billion tourism and aviation support package announced by the Prime Minister in March this year.
The hugely popular and highly successful program has already resulted in more than 50,000 Australians snapping up cut-price fares to Cairns.
It has been an amazing success, bringing a lot of people into our area to see this wonderful work from Indigenous Australians.
It provides an excellent opportunity for Australians visiting Cairns and North Queensland to check out the experiences of countless amazing Indigenous owned and operated businesses and tourist attractions located in my electorate.
I guarantee they will not be disappointed.