The Premier of Western Australia, The Honorable Mark McGowan indicated in an interview with The Perth Express in November 2017, his desire for the resumption of direct flights between Perth and Tokyo and it has now become a reality. The Perth Express interviews Premier McGowan again to ask the Western Australian Government’s reaction to this resumption and what the government is undertaking before the resumption on September 1.
Special thanks to Department of Premier and Cabinet, Office of the Premier. Interview: on 8th February 2019
＞【In Japanese】『「パース－成田」直行便就航記念 パースエクスプレス独占インタビュー 西豪州首相 マーク・マガウワン』
―Firstly, The Perth Express would like to say congratulations to you and your team for re-establishing a direct flight between Perth and Japan. It is fantastic news and everyone thanks you and your team’s efforts.
When The Perth Express interviewed you last November 2017, you said it would be realised not in 2018, but possibly in 2019. How confident were you of direct flights coming back at the time?
We worked on this since we’ve been in government, so that’s 2 years. As you know, direct flights stopped back in 2011 and our share of Japanese tourists declined significantly. Back then, the direct flights were only 3 days a week, so it wasn’t everyday. The Minister for Tourism, Paul Papalia and myself both went to Japan to lobby on the issue, the Minister of Tourism has lobbied very effectively, and has also worked cooperatively with the airlines. We had to work out, of the 3 airlines, ANA, QANTAS, JAL who was the most likely, and we saw that ANA was a quality airline with an interest in this part of the world so the minister worked very effectively on getting ANA interested and then the Tourism Commission worked with ANA on joint-marketing, events and promotional opportunities. We were confident something would happen but we were very excited, I think that it was about Christmas time, that the board of ANA had made a decision to go ahead with the direct flights.
―Please tell what is your expectations and strategy for using the direct flights after the 1st of September 2019?
The strategy is to enhance tourism going both ways so the airlines only work properly if people are coming from Japan but also people from here are going to Japan so as you know a lot of Australians like to go to Japan on holidays these days, but we also have a very big trade or very big traffic in business people from Japan coming to Western Australia. In fact when I was in Japan 2 weeks ago I met a whole range of companies that actually said they send people to Perth basically every week. In fact every day, some of them said. There is already a base there of people who come to Perth, and there are the opportunities for tourism. Currently I think there are 30,000 to 40,000 Japanese tourists coming to Western Australia each year, we obviously want to increase that enormously using these direct flights. We will work with ANA and the Japanese authorities to promote this flight both in Japan and in Western Australia.
―The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) entered into force on 30 December 2018. The Perth Express got the latest news that Australia exports of Wagyu to Japan is up about 60% in January 2019 compared to the previous month of December 2018. New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Mexico are Japan’s major trading countries as the Japanese government said. Do you have any policy related to the TPP and direct flights?
I think the direct flights are about tourists largely, and ensuring more tourists come from Japan to Western Australia to experience what we have on offer here and I think it’s a very good offering but also there are the cargo opportunities. Whether or not that’s lobster, or high quality meat or if it’s other fresh products, that cargo opportunity is there. We will work with ANA to make sure that opportunity is taken up, but the most important thing for me, is making sure we work to promote the flights so the flights stay in place for the long term. We don’t want it to fade out because there’s not enough customers. When I went to Japan, I met with ANA, with the President and CEO in their office, and we discussed the marketing opportunities that are there and they were very keen on that. As you can see we launched the ticket sales yesterday (7, February 2019) and there will be some very exciting and innovative marketing going on.
―The Federal Government announced to change its immigration policy for working holiday makers. It could be up to 3 years if they work in regional areas especially in the agricultural industry. The Perth Express believes it is good news for young Japanese people wishing to stay longer in Australia. Do you think it will work and why do you think the Australian government extended it from 2 to 3 years? The Japanese government has started to open the gate for some Asian countries. People come to Japan for work but there are issues about wages, environment and language. For example close to town the wages are higher than in rural areas but rural areas need more workers.
The Federal Government runs visas and that sort of thing but we work with the Commonwealth Government and we work with overseas and local providers in relation to issues like students and tourists, so we would like to see more international students come here and study in our universities and Japan is a great opportunity for them. When I was in Tokyo, I met with Tokyo City University, that sends students out each year and that’s a great program and the students love it. When it comes to agriculture workers, there is a demand for overseas students to work in plantations and farms, packing sheds that sort of thing. It’s a very good experience for an overseas young person to experience that aspect of Australian life. I think that is a long standing tradition that happens and if you go to some farms, often overseas students are the ones doing all the packing or sorting or those sorts of jobs. That’s something that those people can use these direct flights to get to Western Australia so that is another good outcome.
―Japan has decided to restart commercial whaling but they will cease taking whales in the Southern Ocean/the Southern Hemisphere. Direct flights will bring more tourists form Japan and they enjoy whale watching tours. What would you think about this decision even though it is not around Australia?
Western Australia doesn’t support whaling. The Australian Government has made that claim to their Japanese counterparts. We agree with the Australian Government’s position on this.
―Lastly would you give a message to our readers?
Thank you for your contribution to our state. In business, education, sports, cultural life, there are a lot of Japanese Australians and there are a lot of Japanese people who have migrated to Western Australia. I have always enjoyed my involvement and interaction with the Japanese community. Everyone is very polite, very kind, very courteous, very committed and hard working people. Thank you very much for everything you do.