26 March 2013

New Australian tourism ministers announced

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Following the resignation of Martin Ferguson in the wake of an unsuccessful leadership spill last week, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has appointed two new tourism ministers.

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Martin Ferguson resigned his position as tourism minister following the unsuccessful attempt to replace Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Western Australian MP Gary Gray and South Australian Senator Don Farrell have been appointed minister for tourism and minister assisting on tourism respectively, marking the reinstatement of the latter position.

Martin Ferguson resigned his ministries last week after supported former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's second attempt to oust Ms Gillard in little over a year. In the run up to September’s federal elections, Ms Gillard's ability to secure re-election is widely considered uncertain.

While a large section of the public prefer Mr Rudd - Ms Gillard's predecessor - as a better candidate for prime minister, he lacked the numbers within the Labor Party to regain the position.

In the wake of the failed spill, several senior government ministers, including Mr Ferguson and former Immigration Minister Chris Bowen, resigned their portfolios after supporting Mr Rudd.

The replacement of Mr Ferguson has been welcomed by Australian tourism industry bodies, particularly the reinstatement of the assistant ministry position.

"It is pleasing that the prime minister has seen fit to reinstate the role of minister assisting on tourism, given out industry is one of the largest and most important in Australia, directly employing more than half a million people," said the Accommodation Association of Australia chief executive, Richard Munro.

Despite welcoming the announcement, Mr Munro did praise the work of Mr Ferguson, who oversaw some of the Australian tourism industry's most successful years, growing the industry's contribution to the country's economy to AU$187 million (£129 million) a day.

"Martin set a road-map for the industry with the development of the National Long-Term Tourism Strategy which is currently in the implementation phase."

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