Wed, February 17, 2021 1:41 PM | Deleted user
  • CATO Delegation Met in Canberra to Lobby for JobKeeper
  • Meeting with Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Dan Tehan

A CATO delegation consisting of CATO managing director Brett Jardine, Chairman Dennis Bunnik, and board member Brad McDonnell, were in Canberra on Tuesday 16 February as part of the travel industry’s ongoing lobbying effort to secure government financial support post JobKeeper.

L to R - Brad McDonnell - CEO Entire Travel Group & CATO Board Member; Dennis Bunnik - CATO Chair; Minister Tehan; Brett Jardine - CATO Managing Director.

The CATO delegation met with the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Dan Tehan, to explain the complex nature of the travel industry and the important role of the land supply sector within the travel ecosystem. The Minister was engaged and interested in learning more about the sector and the impacts of COVID.

"We were able to explain the importance of protecting highly skilled jobs and their key to ensuring continued business operations, enabling the redemption of travel credits for consumers and allowing Australians to travel safely once borders reopen," said Jardine.

Minister Tehan heard about CATO’s long standing relationship with DFAT and members’ role in helping to repatriate Australians during the height of the COVID crisis.

CATO explained the impact of COVID on the financial and emotional wellbeing of members and the broader travel industry.

"Whilst we understand the need to close borders, the travel industry has been the sacrificial lamb that has enabled our communities to remain largely COVID free and the wider economy to recover. Whilst the government continues to restrict our trade, it is vital that it provides support to enable us to survive. This support should include continued wage subsidies, grants to help cover overheads and Government backed loans (with delayed repayments) to bridge the cash-flow gap between now and when international travel actually recommences," said Jardine.

CATO Board members Brad McDonnell and Dennis Bunnik were able to provide details of the direct impact of COVID and government border policies on their respective business, Entire Travel Group and Bunnik Tours. In response, Minister Tehan immediately arranged for the CATO delegation to meet with the Senior Economic Advisor for Federal Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg.

During this meeting, and a further meeting with Austrade, CATO was able to delve into details on the support the industry will require post JobKeeper.

Jardine said, "The Government has repeatedly stated that JobKeeper will finish as scheduled at the end of March. Whilst they understand the need for further travel industry support, they are yet to finalise any assistance packages. As such, the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Dan Tehan encouraged CATO and the entire travel industry to keep campaigning their local members on the impact of COVID and the ramifications of ending of JobKeeper to the tourism industry."

The travel industry is showing a united front in Canberra this week with AFTA CEO Darren Rudd also in the capital to meet with political leaders. CATO Chair Dennis Bunnik briefed Rudd on the outcomes of the meetings with the two organisations working together to ensure aligned messaging.

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