If you want a measure of how efficient and well prioritised the government of the day is, how much they value your hard earned money before they spend it, and how much they are actually in control of what they are paid and elected to do, then focus your budget analysis on the rats and mice agencies they assume you will never bother to read.
Today I present the case of Tourism Australia. This is a little known agency that pops its head up about once a year or thereabouts to showcase its latest advert offering of cliched cultural cringe that defames Australia everywhere its shown (think Lara Bingle in bikini and cricket pads).
The bottom line is that Tourism Australia employs 215 people across 15 international locations and costs over $174m per year promoting an industry apparently incapable of funding and executing its own marketing and advertising campaigns to attract more paying customers and boost their collective bottom lines.
Of the $174m expended in 2018 less than $24m came from its own sources of revenue and of that just a paltry $12.4m (7%) came from direct industry contributions. Which is to say the Australian taxpayer is funding grandiose marketing and promotion activity the private sector clearly doesn’t value enough to pay out of its own pocket.
Lack of industry support for Tourism Australia is surprising to say the least. According to the 2017/18 Annual Report the return on Tourism Australia’s “marketing investment” is “16-1”. That is one hell of a return. Who knew that the key to government debt and deficit reduction was a simple matter of “investing” heavily into Tourism Australia?
Some might regard a lack of direct industry contributions as a reflection of Tourism Australia performance but that is definitely not the conclusion of Tourism Australia.
Happily for Tourism Australia, it has set itself key performance indicators which are identical to, and indistinguishable from, total industry performance. Thus if the tourism sector as a whole experiences growth from one year to the next this is entirely attributable to the stellar performance of Tourism Australia.
It would be petty to challenge industry metrics – sorry Tourism Australia metrics – according to inflation, global economic conditions, or currency exchange. For the sake of consistency we can look forward to Tourism Australia owning any economic downturn. Sorry, redundant rhetorical. With returns of 16-1 there will only ever be happy days!
Tourism Australia’s spectacularly high returns on investment can only be put down to its unparalleled expertise in reaching more people than actually populate the planet. That is no easy feat. In the aforementioned annual report it declares that its most recent “Dundee” campaign featuring Chris Hemsworth, “generated significant interest, including reaching more than 9.2 billion people”. You can’t make this stuff up. Sorry, Tourism Australia did.
Tourism Australia has also raised the bar and performed beyond expectations in other areas. Once again referring to its 2017/18 Annual Report, Tourism Australia boasts:
“We have achieved strong workforce diversity – 73 per cent of our workforce is female, 67 per cent of our Executive Leadership team is female, 52 per cent of our Global Leadership team is female, and 2 per cent of staff members in our head office in Sydney are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent.”
Indeed it has. If that’s not diversity I don’t know what is. In coming years Tourism Australia hopes to become even more diverse such no males will be employed (with perhaps the honourable exception of an indigenous gentleman, assuming no indigenous females apply).
Tourism Australia has also led the way in closing the gender pay gap. Its Executive Leadership team being 67% female took home an average salary of $450,000 last financial year. If only the private sector could match this performance.
Tourism Australia is also performing magnificently in terms of reducing its environmental footprint and most importantly its carbon emissions. Headquartered at 420 George Street, Sydney it enjoys A grade prime real estate at A grade priced leases, but this high cost is offset by its planet saving 5 star NABERS rating, just going to show that the cost of inaction on climate change is more than the price of office luxury.
Of course its planet saving endeavours don’t stop there. Despite a corporate plan designed to encourage millions of people to fly long haul to Australia with all the aviation fuel that that entails, it is nonetheless also committed to reducing carbon emissions by . . . . drum roll please . . . . ensuring the use of “double-sided printing and copying as the default setting on all printers and photocopiers”, and, “Ensuring contract cleaners checked that recyclable materials were not contaminated by food waste” (p.104 Annual Report, 2017/18).
Tourism Australia also achieves top marks (self-assessment) in terms of advancing indigenous employment prospects and closing the gap. Not only are 4 employees out of 215 indigenous, it is hopeful of achieving 6 (hence beating the KPI of 3%) in the near future, not least through its ground breaking Indigenous Cadetship Support program.
This program offers students of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people cadetships at Tourism Australia while they complete their tertiary studies.
Let’s hope Maddy Wright who featured in the 2017/18 Annual Report (p.96) as one of two indigenous cadets in 2018 will go on to great things at Tourism Australia and in the process strengthen further the workplace diversity that makes Tourism Australia such a great place to work.
In conclusion, Tourism Australia represents a colossal waste of tax payer funds. If it adds value to the private tourism sector then let them quantify it and pay for it directly. It is lunacy that taxpayer funds subsidise the advertising and marketing expenses of the chosen few who arguably don’t even value it.
It’s performance is unmeasurable – if you discount the most obvious metric being a lack of fee paying private enterprises that are said to benefit 16-1 for every dollar Tourism Australia spends – or totally absurd like its claims to be reaching 9bn people out of a world population less than 8!
The organisation promotes diversity by eliminating it, and its environmental posturing flies in the face of its flying customers! This is an organisation with zero self-awareness playing in a space that requires an awareness of customers!
Drain the billabong starting with Tourism Australia. We can save $150m per year, not to mention salvage some national pride by preventing its embarrassing “product” (I use the term lightly) from being distributed around the world.
Any government that funds Tourism Australia is a government not serious about fiscal discipline, has no sense of priorities, no respect for tax payers, no idea about markets and no consistency in saving the world from carbon emissions.
One down. A hundred more to follow. I hope I inspire others to follow the rats and mice!