Putting small business ahead of multinationals - Transcript, Doorstop

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

DOORSTOP

MANLY, BRISBANE

TUESDAY, 12 MARCH 2019

SUBJECTS: Labor’s plans to give Australians hotels control over their businesses, Nationals chaos and LNP civil war over coal, Adani.

JO BRISKEY, LABOR’S CANDIDATE FOR BONNER: Jo Briskey here, Labor's candidate running at the federal election for the seat of Bonner, where I'm welcoming Andrew and Ed and also Richard from the Accommodation Association here at the Manly Marina Cove Motel down in Manly in the wonderful electorate of Bonner, talking about Labor's policy today around making it easier and fairer for customers and local businesses and importantly for families being able to get some really great local accommodation, good accommodation for those family holidays. So I'm absolutely thrilled to be here this morning, welcoming these lovely gentlemen to the wonderful Manly harbourside. Andrew, would you like to say a few words about today’s announcement?

ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER AND SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMPETITION: Thanks, Jo. It’s a real pleasure to be here with my friend and colleague Ed Husic and Jo Briskey, a terrific candidate for Bonner, and with Richard Munro, who has been campaigning hard on behalf of the accommodation industry for these vital changes. Labor wants to put power back in the hands of Australian tourists and Australian hotels. Right now, the duopoly of multinational booking providers going under various names - Expedia, Hotels.com, Kayak, Booking.com, Priceline, Wotif -  have been dominating the market for online bookings. They’re charging extremely high booking fees - they can range up to 30 per cent. They're able to maintain their market share through what's called price parity clauses, by requiring small hotels like this one to not offer a cheaper price to guests on their own website. The result of that has been that up to a third of the cost of accommodation is going offshore to these large multinational firms. In a time when we've got wage growth in the doldrums, we've got retail sales down, where we've got disappointing growth figures, we don't want to see more policies benefiting the top end of town over Aussie small businesses.

So we’re here to announce today that under a Shorten Government, we would ban these price parity clauses. We'd free up local accommodation providers to offer a cheaper price on their own website. It's not a radical reform - the Australian competition watchdog has been looking into this issue for a while and if you look at countries like Germany, Italy, France, Sweden, Austria, they've taken steps to ban price parity clauses and to allow customers to go direct and get a better deal. A Shorten Labor Government would always be support the fair deal over the top end of town. We’ll always support small businesses over offshore multinationals. This policy has been developed in close collaboration with the Australian accommodation industry, which is a strongly employing industry in Queensland and right across the country. If we want to create more jobs and better paid jobs, we’ve got to make sure that more of the money when you book a hotel stays in that hotel and is able to be reinvested in the local businesses. 

I'm really proud of this announcement which we're making in conjunction with our colleague Anthony Albanese. I'd like to hand over now to my colleague Ed Husic to say a few words about the policy.

ED HUSIC, SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE DIGITAL ECONOMY: Thank you very much Andrew and it's good to be here with Jo today and also Richard on a very important announcement. A lot of Australians know that many of the digital platforms particularly in the travel space has opened up opportunities for people to be able to visit places they may not necessarily have considered staying at before or being able to contact and be able to find bargains on those platforms. So these platforms have opened up opportunity, but we've got to keep an eye on these things and if the type of behaviours that we've seen emerge, you've got to be able to act. And in terms of the policy proposition that's been put forward today, that a Shorten Labor Government would clamp down on these types of practices, what we are doing is making sure the competition continues - that people can be able to approach the individual motel, like what we've seen here, and been able to get those bargains directly and not have anti-competitive behaviour creep in. What's happening here in Australia, we've lagged the rest of the world in dealing with these type of behaviours and the type of policies that we're putting forward here are good for local businesses and they're also good in terms of allowing those businesses to engage someone locally with the skills and capability to help support them and develop their own website and be able to have a unique offering being put forward. So this is good stuff for the local accommodation sector and I want to invite Richard up from the Accommodation Association to be able to talk about why this is such an important thing for the local accommodation sector in Australia.

RICHARD MUNRO, ACCOMMODATION ASSOCIATION OF AUSTRALIAN CEO: Thanks very much, Ed. Thanks Andrew. Very well spoken and I'm so pleased the Labor Party has acted decisively on what is a very common sense approach to this particular issue for our members across the country. This price parity issue probably doesn’t resonate with too many people, but what it means effectively this is a fantastic decision - should Labor win government - that we'll be able to get a better price to customers directly and that's online. At the moment, that’s just not - we can't facilitate that through the contracts that we've got. So effectively, this puts us into a position where we can offer a better price back straight to our customers and that's what they want the end of the day. They want -  we’re a primary product and we, our customers are very important to us and we're a big employer. We employ a lot of people across the country. This industry is growing and so as we grow we need to have the settings right and this is recalibrating the relationship as far as we see it in that the business has now taken control and we can actually be in touch directly with our customers. So, I implore you to book direct and, you know, go on holiday in Australia. That's important, because what we're doing is keeping businesses - small businesses, like the Manly Marina Cove Motel here - alive and we employ so many people so it's jobs. And so this policy, we congratulate Labor on a terrific job. Fast to market and we appreciate all the efforts. So thank you. 

LEIGH: Thanks very much, Richard. Any questions?

REPORTER: I've got some questions for Jo, if you don’t mind. Should Labor use Kyoto credits to help reach emission target?

BRISKEY: It's a very good question and I think Andrew is probably best placed to answer. I’ll pass that to you, Andrew.

LEIGH: Labor hasn’t formed a final view on whether or not we ought to use the credits. But certainly under a Labor Government, you’ll see emissions coming down, not going up. And you won't get the extraordinary denialism which you’ve seen from the government over recent weeks suggesting that somehow Australia's emissions are falling, when in fact their own data shows them to be rising. Only attempted trickery will get the Coalition over the line. Labor will deliver real emissions reductions through a strong climate plan.

REPORTER: So what should Labor's approach be on coal fired power stations?

LEIGH: We don't believe that a cent of taxpayer dollars should be going to funding projects, power projects, that the private sector has determined to be unviable. And indeed, Trent Zimmerman I thought made this point quite articulately - the problem is he's in the minority wing, which is the wing of the Liberal Party and currently believes in science and economics. Right now you have a war going on within the National Party, a war going on within the Coalition over this outdated notion that somehow intervening in the market to have government run, federal government run power stations would be a solution. It's simply not, as any Australian who's got a solar PV system on their roof will tell you.

REPORTER: Lastly, should be Adani mine go ahead?

LEIGH: It needs to stack up environmentally and economically. And so far we don't believe it has.

ENDS

Authorised by Noah Carroll ALP Canberra.


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