Prime Minister Anthony Albanese revealed his first ministry yesterday, officially naming Don Farrell as the country’s new Trade and Tourism Minister.
Farrell has been in parliament since 2008 and is one of several members of the new cabinet with previous experience as a minister, having served as Minister for Sports towards the end of Labor’s last term in government.
The new ministry was sworn in this morning, boasting a record number of women and Australia’s first Muslim ministers.
Both the Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC) and the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) have welcomed Farrell’s appointment, remarking on his strong support for the tourism and travel industry.
“The Australian Tourism Industry Council has worked closely with Senator Farrell as opposition tourism spokesperson and looks forward to working with the new minister to deliver the government’s $48 million tourism package,” said Evan Hall, chair of the ATIC.
“ATIC will work with the new government to assist small and regional tourism businesses to develop high-quality tourism products and to recover from the impacts of COVID.
Hall said tourism is a valuable contributor to our economy and is delighted that the tourism portfolio is aligned with trade in a senior cabinet position.
“The appointment of Senator Farrell to the cabinet in the tourism portfolio, and the alignment with the trade portfolio, is welcome as Australia rebuilds its visitor economy,” Hall said.
In the lead up to the federal election, the Labor party quietly committed to a $48 million tourism and travel package to help rebuild the industry, including a $10 million injection in training and skills development for hospitality and accommodation.
ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said Farrell has been a strong supporter of the tourism industry over many years and has a grounded understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing the industry as it rebuilds.
“We congratulate the Minister and his team and look forward to discussing our feedback and opportunities for tourism’s success,” he said.
Shelley also called on the government to fix delays in visa processing, provide marketing subsidies for tourism export businesses, build stronger partnerships with airlines to support the return of seat capacity and help rebuild the tourism workforce via supplements and training initiatives.
He said addressing these issues will help get businesses back to market effectively and can easily be actioned immediately.
The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) said last week it has also been working closely with Farrell, who the peak body said has consistently worked behind the scenes and been vocal on the floor of Parliament to push the need for ongoing support.
In April, Farrell told AFTA members the Labor party did the best it could to support the previous government in practical decisions and pushed them to act as early as they could.
“What I have done in the last 18 months or so is listen to the industry to get a sense of the things that will really help in the recovery,” Farrell said.
“We will continue talking to you. We know what the issues are and we intend to bring forward policies to deal with that as we recover.
“We are well aware of the struggles the travel sector has gone through and AFTA has been very active in this regard. I’m very honoured to be able to speak to you today.
“I don’t think there’s any other group in our community that’s done it tougher than you.
“I know the struggles you’ve gone through and I’d like to help as much as I can in what I hope will be a strong, long-standing recovery.”
Featured image: Facebook/SenatorDonFarrell