Superyachts press conference, Airlie Beach

JOURNALIST:

Alright, George. How wonderful is this announcement?

GEORGE CHRISTENSEN:

Excellent. I'm George Christensen, Federal Member for Dawson. It's great to have the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack here at the marina here at Airlie Beach to talk about the benefit that there’s going to be to the Whitsundays from the legislation we've recently put through Parliament, to remove the financial impediments of bringing superyachts into Australia. For a long time now,
we've had a situation where basically the superyachts that are coming into the country to do charters were charged the equivalent of GST. It's been a barrier to them coming in. They've gone to other places such as New Zealand and Noumea and it’s been our loss, our loss as a nation, our loss for the Whitsundays given that we’re the sailing capital of Australia.

So Noumea for instance, gets about 200 of these vessels in a year staying for about a week each. They dropped somewhere between $50 and $60,000 in a particular community when they’re docked. That’s a lot of money that can flow around the local economy, with chandlery, with goods on board, with flowers. Anything that they want on board the superyacht, you name it, there’s a business in it. So it’s local jobs that would benefit out of this. We could potentially be getting hundreds of these vessels into the Whitsundays to tour around, to have a look. Great for them that are coming and looking, great for the locals as well who are going to get business and jobs out of this. So, I’m very pleased that the Government has moved in this direction. It's a long line of things that we've been doing to attract superyacht tourism to Australia and to the Whitsundays. We've gotten the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to change some of the settings to allow superyachts to traverse into areas where they want to see. We've now got this financial impediment on superyachts removed and we're also now talking with the marina here about getting this place as a port of entry so that superyachts can come in here first of all when they come to Australia. That’ll mean big dollars for our community.

AMANDA CAMM:

This is a fantastic announcement for the tourism community but also for all of the small businesses that support the industry across the Whitsundays because we know the economic flow-on effect from what this legislation will do, and we know at the moment, tourism have been very proactive in this space and have been advocating and working very hard to ensure that the Clipper Race that's coming up and the entire festival in early January will be a success for this region. So, without a doubt, this announcement today is going to help build confidence across our tourism sector but also for small business across the broader region as well to see the economic benefit that will flow from this red tape reduction.

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

Well, a special Recreation Vessels Bill 2019 is going to mean such economic benefit for the Whitsundays, indeed through North Queensland, Central Queensland, Queensland as a state, as a whole. This is going to bring jobs. They say more than 11,000 jobs are going to be created by this legislation. Legislation which was advocated for, fought for and delivered by George Christensen and other LNP members. This is going to bring such economic benefits for the Whitsundays, in particular. So these yachts, these superyachts, which would otherwise have gone to Vanuatu, Fiji, New Zealand, who knows where, are now going to be docking, going from port to port in Australia, spending money here whether it's shopping money, tourism money or indeed dry docking, and getting upgrades to their vessels. But it’s a great outcome for the Queensland tourism industry, a great outcome for local businesses. And I fully endorse and support what George Christensen and Amanda Camm and others have done. They have fought for this. I know the superyacht industry is very excited by it. Why wouldn't you want visit Queensland? It's going to be particularly important with the America's Cup, with the Tokyo Olympics coming up, these superyachts come to people with lots of money to spend and they’re going to be spending it in Queensland.

Well done to George, well done to Amanda, well done to all of the LNP members and candidates who advocated for this for so many years. Common sense has prevailed and this money is going to be wisely spent in this beautiful part of Australia.

JOURNALIST:

Okay. So what does this mean for industry?

PAUL DARROUZET:

Well, firstly, let me start on behalf of Superyacht Australia. Thank you to George and Michael and Amanda for the terrific work that they've done in bringing this legislation to fruition. It's been a long, hard road. We've been advocating for probably the best part of seven years to have this tax on tourism withdrawn. It obviously had some difficulties getting through the Upper House in 2015 and ‘17 but we’re very, very pleased it has now come through. I think with 168 vessels booked into the America’s Cup in New Zealand, they’ve all got to drive past our front door to get there. We're really hoping to benefit from some of the activity that can arise where they charter in Australian waters now, where they weren't allowed to previously. There’s 120, 130 boats travelling around Vanuatu, Noumea, Fiji, Tonga and so forth, that are now going to be encouraged to come down here.

Superyacht Australia have put together The Great Southern Route, which is a tremendous touring guide for vessels to come down from Singapore, Asia, Hong Kong and then visit Australia, down to Sydney for the New Year's Eve celebrations and then down to Auckland in New Zealand for the summer and also for the America’s Cup.

So, I think that the economic benefit, you can’t really understate it because they’re high net worth individuals bringing luxury vessels to Australia. We're looking at a refit facility in Bowen which will be able to accommodate 9000 tonne super lift- to lift these vessels and we're hoping that we can turn Bowen into sort of like the Newcastle of the north with some of the economic activities.

So, well done to these guys and the next step and last step is hopefully to get access by way of biosecurity and border clearances in the marina here or in the Whitsundays area, and that's really going to make it so that we can be a pivotal arrival and departure destination point for these vessels.

So, all I can do is say on behalf of Superyacht Australia, we thank everybody involved in getting this through and we’re happy days.