Meet the Minister: The Hon. Martin Pakula MP

This forum was held on Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Widespread community vaccination is the ticket out of the coronavirus pandemic and until that time, constant vigilance and adaptability are necessary.

This was a key message from Committee for Melbourne’s Meet the Minister event featuring The Honourable Martin Pakula MP and leaders from the aviation, higher education, visitor economy and racing sectors.

Kindly hosted by Ashurst and sponsored by the Victorian Tourism Industry Council (VTIC), members were briefed on our Road to Recovery and initiatives underway to ensure Melbourne and Victoria builds back stronger.

While acknowledging the challenges faced by business and the community, and their resilience displayed through adversity, the Minister was upbeat about our recovery and the long-term prospects for key economic sectors, including arts & culture, major events, tourism, international education, aviation and advanced manufacturing.

Minister Pakula participated in a panel discussion featuring La Trobe University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Dewar, Melbourne Airport’s Chief of Aviation, Lorie Argus, Racing Victoria’s CEO, Giles Thompson and VTIC’s CEO, Felicia Mariani. Key takeaways from the discussion included:

  • The vaccination rate and opening of Australia’s international border must be prioritised. Industry is well equipped to help with testing and vaccination rollouts.
  • We will not be able to ‘flick the switch’ and expect international visitation to rebound instantly. Australia must package its value and articulate that value globally well ahead of the opening of the border.
  • Collaboration across all sectors is needed to fast-track the recovery and ensure it is even.
  • Skills and productivity are major challenges Australia must address over the medium to long-term on our Road to Recovery. Universities can play a critical role in responding to these twin challenges.
  • We need to restore our internationally recognised major events calendar and leverage each event to increase visitation and economic impact across both Greater Melbourne and Victoria.
  • A formal structure is required for Greater Melbourne to promote its brand attractions across the city and suburbs to collaborate with Regional Tourism Boards.

In April 2021, the Committee made a submission to the Legislative Council Standing Committee on Economy and Infrastructure’s Inquiry into the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism and events sectors. Recommendations on collaboration, skills and governance arrangements for the sector were provided, which the Committee will continue to advocate for with stakeholders.

From the panel: 

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