By ERWIN CHLANDA
The trend towards outsourcing government policy formulation, or at least the vital steps leading up to it, is progressing apace.
In the wake of the youth detention and fracking inquiries, costing tens of millions of dollars, Tourism Minister Lauren Moss (pictured) is now engaging accounting firms to advise her how to develop the “record $103m Turbocharging Tourism” initiative – not just one firm but apparently four.
Ms Moss, in a media release, says her Department of Tourism and Culture has appointed KPMG “to deliver the first long-term strategic plan for the business events sector in the NT”.
In another release she says: “Deloitte Access Economics has been awarded the contract to co-develop, with industry, the Tourism Industry Development Strategy.”
And further: “Local Territory firm Ambrose Indigenous Business Ltd in conjunction with national agency MI Associates, has been awarded the contract to develop the NT Aboriginal Tourism Strategic Plan with the final document due in early 2019.
“The Aboriginal Tourism Advisory Committee will be closely involved in the development of the strategy, as well as other Aboriginal people and businesses involved in tourism.”
Tourism Central Australia, the local industry lobby, which gets a significant part of its budget from the NT Government, can be expected to be a contributor to these diverse planning efforts.
All this is accompanied by the now well-known Gunner Government spiel: “Business events in the Territory deliver significant economic benefits and create local jobs – that’s why we are seriously targeting this area.
“This is the first ever long-term business events strategy for the NT and will guide the development of the NT business events sector through to 2030 and articulate a shared vision and framework for the sustainable economic growth of business events in the NT.”
How “shared” this vision will be, given the number of diverse players, remains to be seen.
The Government has Tourism NT which is now less transparent in the way that it is represented in the Budget: It has become part of the Department of Tourism and Culture, together with Major Events, Parks and Wildlife, Arts and Museums, Sport and Recreation and the Heritage Branch.
Previously it had a budget of around $40m – 12 times that of its Queensland counterpart on a per capita basis.
Despite this, the industry in the NT is well behind national trends.
“KPMG will undertake a comprehensive industry consultation process to inform realistic yet ambitious targets for the industry, define responsibilities and set priorities,” says Ms Moss. The report is expected to be delivered by October 2018.
“Tourism is a cornerstone of the Territory economy, supporting thousands of small and medium-sized businesses, 16,300 direct and indirect jobs, and generating around $2.3b for the Territory economy,” Ms Moss says.
“We are developing long-term tourism industry strategies that will strengthen and build on the work government has already undertaken across the sector.
“The development of the Tourism Industry Development Strategy 2020-2030 will involve significant and broad consultation, and Deloitte Access Economics, including its local Territory presence, will undertake this important work with the final draft strategic plan expected to be completed by December.
“This work ensures that tourism in the Territory is operating with a shared vision, shared priorities and with shared accountability.”
We emailed a government media person at 8.16am yesterday with the following questions. By the time of publication today we have had no response.
• How much does Deloittes get paid for this, was there an open tender for the job and please send me the terms of reference?
• What is the cost of this: The First Long-Term Business Events Strategy Developed for the NT (KPMG), was there an open tender for the job and please send me the terms of reference.
• How come there are TWO studies – Deloitte and KPMG?
• What is the 2018/19 budget for Tourism NT? It is no longer a stand-alone item in the Budget Papers.
• What is the annual subsidy for Tourism Central Australia?
A reader alerted us to the following details on the government’s tender website:
Ambrose Indigenous Business Pty Limited, $416,720.
All Centres – Consultancy – Provision of Strategic Plan for Aboriginal Tourism within the Northern Territory.
Darwin – Consultancy – Provision of Long-term Strategy for Business Events in the Northern Territory.
Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, $206,349.
All Centres – Consultancy – Tourism Industry Development Strategic Plan 2030.
Minister Moss has provided the following answers to some of the questions, including – as mentioned above – that the consultants were “appointed through an open public tender process”. She confirmed the figures above fr Deloitte and KPMG and we had not asked her for the Ambrose Indigenous Business Pty Ltd figure but we are pleased to provide it.
The terms of reference were not provided by Ms Moss and neither was the question answered: “How come there are TWO studies – Deloitte and KPMG?”
Ms Moss says the 2018-19 budget for Department of Tourism and Culture is $262.35m (page 203 of the Budget Paper No 3) but this does not detail the expenditures for functions previously provided by Tourism NT, which are now included in the department.
Ms Moss says in 2018-19 the NT Government will provide $825,000 to Tourism Central Australia to support visitor information centres to deliver marketing and visitor information services.
“This is not a subsidy,” she says.
Will more consultants get tourism out of the mire?
By ERWIN CHLANDA