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Landmark aviation letter as tourism minister hints at support

January 25, 2021 Business News, Headline News 1 Comment

Australia’s tourism and aviation industries have stepped up their pleas for an extension of JobKeeper, and while federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg is not keen on the idea, Australia’s new tourism minister is encouraging and is looking “to see whether there is specific or targeted support that could be provided or is needed”.

Fourteen unions and companies – including Virgin Australia, The Transport Workers’ Union (TWU), Australian Services Union (ASU), Dnata, Menzies, Gate Gourmet, and Swissport (but not Qantas) – have signed a landmark joint letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, asking that the wage subsidy scheme continues past March for the aviation industry.

The travel agent industry has made similar entreaties.

“This week Health Department Secretary Professor Brendan Murphy predicted that international border closures will largely remain until 2022,” the aviation letter says.

“Recent events have also shown that domestic borders are likely to continue to periodically close with short notice. Over the last 12 months, as a direct consequence of border closures brought on by the pandemic, the aviation industry has lost at least 11,000 aviation workers to redundancies. A further 2500 ground handling and cleaning workers have been outsourced by Qantas…”

The TWU has placed the full letter on its website. It can be accessed here.

Full-time workers on JobKeeper receive $1000 a fortnight while those doing fewer than 20 hours get $650. The scheme will end on 28 March 2021 unless extended.

Tourism industry bodies such as AFTA and the Tourism Task Force have pleaded for urgent assistance to the industry.

So will there be an AviationKeeper or TourismKeeper?

Morrison and Frydenberg are not keen on extending JobKeeper, though they haven’t ruled it out.

“What I’ve simply said is that Australian taxpayers can’t underwrite the Australian economy forever,” Morrison said recently. On more help for the tourism sector, he said it was too early to decide. Frydenberg denied the government was considering extending wage subsidies in the hospitality sector.

Australia’s new minister for trade, tourism and investment, Dan Tehan, however, seems altogether more responsive.

“I’ve already been engaging heavily with the tourism industry to listen to their concerns and also to get thoughts, ideas and feedback from them as to how the government may be able to assist them while we wait for international tourism to come back online,” Tehan told the Guardian and other media outlets in a group interview last week.

Tehan, who was appointed to his tourism role a few days before Christmas 2020, has asked the industry to come up with a way to identify sectors of the industry particularly exposed to international tourism, as distinct from those dealing in domestic tourism.

Tehan gave some hope of “travel bubbles” with New Zealand, Pacific countries and perhaps Singapore “if they’re able to continue to successfully deal with the pandemic” but he added, disturbingly, that “the most likely scenario is that we’re probably nine to 12 months away from international tourism as we know it restarting”.

The Australian Labor Party has already thrown its support behind giving travel agents extra financial help.

Shadow Minister for Government Services, Bill Shorten, told Nine’s Today Show last week that JobKeeper should be extended for the tourism industry.

“I think we are going to have to help bail out the travel agents. I would keep the JobKeeper going there,” Shorten said.

“If the borders can’t open they are still affected but the travel agent, the mums and dad businesses in the high street of the cities and bush, I think we should give them a hand.”

Shorten said state and federal governments should use local travel agents rather than “overseas-based platforms” to book travel.



Written by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. gnits says:

    ….. i haven’t heard anything from the accommodation sector about asking the government to for the jobkeeper extension… i wonder why….is the accommodation industry doing better than other travel industry sectors?…. i mean, hello…

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