New South Wales Tourism
The Hon. H. S. TSANG: My question without notice is to the Treasurer, and Minister for State Development. Will the Treasurer update the House on the latest success of New South Wales as a tourist State?
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: I thank the Hon. H. S. Tsang for his question. His questions are always topical, interesting and important. The Sydney 2000 Olympics have helped produce quite a number of stunning results for New South Wales. According to a new nationwide survey released last week New South Wales, as one would expect, is Australia's most desired tourist destination. The survey conducted by See Australia reveals that New South Wales receives the highest proportion of domestic interstate travellers in Australia—these are interstate visitors, not international visitors. When it comes to international visitors, of course, New South Wales wins hands down, but it seems that we also win hands down in regard to interstate travellers.
These results are a great outcome for New South Wales, especially in relation to the economic importance of tourism to the State. Tourism is worth approximately $19.6 billion a year to New South Wales, and employs more than 200,000 people. That is a staggering figure, $19.6 billion—in other words, $19,600,000,000, which is just under 10 per cent of the State's gross domestic product [GDP]. Doing a bit of quick mental arithmetic, which of course we can in New South Wales—unlike our Queensland colleagues—that is probably about 8 per cent of the State's GDP. The Government is working hard to ensure that New South Wales remains Australia's No. 1 tourist destination, building on the popularity of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
The Hon. J. H. Jobling: So long as they don't want to travel on a ferry.
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: I'll tell you what, there would not be a ferry in the world robust enough to carry the Hon. J. H. Jobling! About that we can be sure.
The Hon. D. J. Gay: You are catching up.
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: The Deputy Leader of the Opposition insulted me. He said that I am catching up. I assume he means by that that I am approaching the size of our colleague the Hon. J. H. Jobling. I have to say that is true, but I am going to do something about it. I am glad to see that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is also suffering from the same problem. In fact, we are all getting old. When I look at the photographs of some of you people taken a few years ago, you are all bright-eyed and bushy tailed and fairly thin, but the Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti is enough to send anyone to seed.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: Point of order: I draw your attention to the fact that the Minister is not being relevant or answering the question. I am very interested to hear if he has a catalogue in his back pocket to tell us what is happening in respect of coastal tourism.
The PRESIDENT: Order! The Minister was quite obviously being led astray by interjections, especially from the Hon. J. H. Jobling. Interjections are disorderly. The Minister may proceed.
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: The Leader of the Opposition has made the insulting suggestion that I have only just discovered the gymnasium in Parliament House. In fact, I was a regular user of that well before the Leader of the Opposition.
The Hon. I. Cohen: I have not seen you there once.
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: No, because I have been too busy in the last six years. I used to be a regular, daily attender.
The Hon. I. Cohen: Well, I have not seen you.
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: Well I have been in it a few times, but the new equipment is a bit too complicated for me. You have to press buttons, but when I press buttons it does not do the sorts of things it should do. I prefer the older, manual stuff. The old, manual stuff is a lot better.
You have never seen me in the bar. That is true. I am a very abstemious fellow.
The Hon. R. H. Colless: What about Lee Rhiannon's pub?
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: I never went there.
The Hon. D. J. Gay: What about the Bundarra pub?
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: I worked in the Bundarra pub. I have told the House the story of how I got the parish priest blotto one night, pouring him scotch and gin instead of scotch and water. I did not know the difference. The gin and the water were in the same bottles! But it did not affect him. It was New Year's Eve when I was pouring him scotch and gin. I did not know who he was. When I turned up for 9 o'clock mass on New Year's Day, there he was, celebrating mass and handing out communion. Quite a remarkable performance!
As I said, the Government is working hard to ensure that New South Wales remains Australia's number one tourist destination, building on the popularity of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. The See Australia survey found that 35 per cent of all Australians selected New South Wales as their destination of choice, making it the survey's most popular State–with its beaches, camping areas, cities, waterways, wine regions and special events drawing the biggest crowds. In respect of special events drawing the biggest crowds, I am proud to say that the Sydney Royal Easter Show has become the country's biggest tourist event, injecting more than $150 million into the local economy. The show, which begins tomorrow, 6 April, will see an estimated one million people pass through the turnstiles at Homebush Bay. I have to admit that I was a critic, back in the early 1990s, of suggestions that were then made by the Hon. Bob Rowland Smith that the showground should move from Moore Park to Homebush Bay—I am always the first to admit when I have been wrong.
The Hon. D. J. Gay: It took a while.
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: No, I in fact conceded that after the first show held at Homebush Bay. It is a much better venue for the Royal Easter Show and it has changed the nature of the show. The show at Moore Park had become a sort of Luna Park-type attraction with sideshows. One of the interesting things was that when you arrived at the old show at Moore Park you would see people leaving and, almost invariably, they had silly hats on and things on sticks, and pluto pups in their mouths. These days when you go to the show at Homebush Bay, when you get off the train at the station and see people leaving the show, there is hardly any of that. It has become a real agricultural show. The new pavilions where the animals are displayed are of such high quality that you do not make just a fleeting visit; you actually linger. They are spacious and they are clean, and I think the show has returned to being an agricultural show. I am told that the Hon. I. M. Macdonald is actually displaying his cattle this year.
The Hon. C. J. S. Lynn: It is an exhibit.
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: The Hon. C. J. S. Lynn would be an exhibit, except that there would not be an appropriate category for him. Unless there is a category for extinct species, he would not be able to get a showing out there.
The Hon. Dr A. Chesterfield-Evans: Answer the question!
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: I am answering the question, but I am also answering your interjection and every other interjection that I can pick up. The Sydney Royal Easter Show puts $150 million into the local economy each year. The show, which begins tomorrow, will see an estimated one million people pass through the turnstiles at Homebush Bay. I would not be surprised if that estimate is surpassed. The Sydney Olympics introduced a lot of people to the site for the first time, a site which they previously were unfamiliar with and thought it was too difficult to get there. They now know you can very easily get there.
The Hon. D. F. Moppett: More easily than to Moore Park.
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: I think it is easier to get to than Moore Park, particularly with the first-rate public transport arrangements that are in place for major events such as the show. Interestingly, it is estimated that 40 per cent of the one million people who will attend the show will come from interstate. That is an incredible figure—40 per cent of show attendees will come from interstate. The Hon. D. F. Moppett is wearing an expression on his face that appears to query that figure. I will have the figure checked.
The Hon. R. S. L. Jones: What about overseas visitors?
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: I do not know the number of overseas visitors, but I will try to find out. Last year visitors spent an average of $60 each, which was an increase of $9 per person on the 1999 figure. Visitors will also spend more than $100 a night each on hotel accommodation. In visitor numbers alone, the Royal Easter Show has become the largest single annual event in the Southern Hemisphere, and the sixth-biggest event of its kind in the world, I am told, rivalling attendances at the giant Texas State Fair. We will have to do something about that. I always thought the Royal Easter Show was the biggest event of all time.
The Hon. D. F. Moppett: There is nothing to see there.
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: At the Texas State Fair? I am sure there is not. I do not think there is much to see in Texas.
The Hon. D. T. Harwin: Have you ever been to San Antonio?
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: No, I have never been to San Antonio.
The Hon. D. T. Harwin: The San Antonio Fair is bigger.
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: Is it? I am not as experienced a world traveller as the Hon. D. T. Harwin, but one day I will catch up and get to those places.
Sydney's Royal Easter Show is now firmly established at its new permanent home at Homebush Bay. I urge all honourable members to attend and support this great family event. I hope that when I am out there that I run into one or more of you.
The Hon. Elaine Nile: Are there any more seats there for the elderly to sit in the shade?
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: Yes I think so. When did you go last?
The Hon. Elaine Nile: The year before last, not last year.
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: If the Hon. Elaine Nile goes to the show this year she will find that there are more seats and a lot more shade. In a few years, when the trees that have been planted will be near full height, it will be a really spectacular location.