- Wednesday, 16 May 2012 15:51
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We have just gone through two elections in Queensland in the last month and now a horror federal budget.
On the one hand we have our new Can Do Premier nominating tourism as one of the four main economic planks to build up the state economy, whilst at federal level there is a list of key tourism infrastructure projects including all important hotel development in Perth for example.
On the other hand we have big and small business crying poor, while our mining friends' investment budgets are blowing out amidst criticism that Australia has one of the highest costs of any country in which to do business. Well, the media and politicians are being denounced for spreading doom and gloom and that is before the new carbon tax kicks in or if the Libs arrive then there's hefty cost for maternal and paternal time out.
Much can be done to alter this parlous state of affairs if only the politicians whom we vote in and the bureaucrats that are meant to be behoven to them get over the Yes, Minister syndrome and understand that processes need to be worked up and put into place from the consumer up. It is not just a question of employing more and more consultants or of having a plethora of meetings and reports. It really is a question of cost efficient processes and decision making to cut down the immense amount of red tape and inability to help Australian industries competing. One recent example is the new national business registration that has taken over from the cumbersome and expensive state by state licencing system.
Don't leave this column in despair or disbelief. Just let me give some examples;
• At local council level we had to fight to ensure that B&Bs that offer dinner as well as breakfast are not charged twice as much for their food and hygiene licence as those offering breakfast only.
• Queensland now has two levels of government to certify pool construction and maintenance. This doubles our pool maintenance costs that we cannot oncharge
• Our town gets a grant of $1.6 million to upgrade our community centre and its information centre. My architect friend is being driven spare by the amount of paperwork, licences etc from council, Main Roads, electricity and other essential services. All this cuts heavily into our available budget as well as into his time, much of which is being given pro bono.
• The GST I have to do each year for our business takes some 20 hours, partly because each food bill has to be split between GST and non-GST. The monthly average for the GST element is 27-33%. When GST was introduced I asked on behalf of the Qld B&B association if this could be averaged out or some other time saving mechanism could be put into place. No, they said. That decision does not save the revenue collectors but just costs me and the whole industry money. What a waste.
• We all in the tourism industry work hard to promote our destination. Where I live we have some of the best artists in the country and fabulous natural parks. Recently I took some of our information centre volunteers down to the beautiful Mary Valley for a joint visitation with our adjoining VIC. Our state government had spent a considerable amount of money on a Great Walk. I understand that as part of this new walk there should be a sculptor or other piece of art to reflect this great asset. You would have thought that one of our local artists would be been commissioned to carry this out in a location easy to access and therefore to be marketed to our visitors.
Wrong, wrong. A well known foreign sculptor was flown in, a helicopter used to drop stone into a cleared glade and a bee hive type sculpture erected with a fig on top which, when grown up, will take over the artefact. To reach this one needs an all wheel drive at present and an hour's walk. The cost of this exercise would have allowed the Hinterland and Mary Valley some 10 years of television time in our key market.
Time and time again I despair at the great waste of time and money that ends up achieving little. I was taught in my economics class that simple tax is good tax. The present GST does not fit into that category.
If the tourism industry is really serious at all three levels of government at getting costs down and their products world competitive, then we need to nut out problem areas that can be looked at from the angle of increased efficiency. It really is not good enough for the tourism industry to be expected to perform better if we are not given the tools to do it. Nor should we be expected to promote tourism products paid by our hard earned dollars that we have no input into.