06/04/2018 - 15:53

Tourism boss dumped

06/04/2018 - 15:53

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The director general of the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation, Stephen Wood, will be leaving his job next week, after the government said it was not satisfied with his management of the tourism portfolio.

The director general of the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation, Stephen Wood, will be leaving his job next week, after the government said it was not satisfied with his management of the tourism portfolio.

The department was created last year as part of a process that involved the amalgamation of multiple agencies.

The tourism industry has been unhappy with the new structure, saying Tourism WA needs to be an autonomous agency to arrest the slide in WA’s market share.

In a statement released this afternoon, Premier Mark McGowan said: “It has been agreed that Mr Wood would part ways as director general of the department”.

“Principally, the government was not satisfied with the way the tourism portfolio was being managed and it was decided the department needed to move in a new direction.”

Prior to his current role, Mr Wood spent six years as director general of the former department of state development, and before that worked for the Department of the Premier and Cabinet.

Shadow Tourism Minister Libby Mettam said the sacking was a demonstration of the chaos and dysfunction in the government following last year’s machinery of government changes.

“There was no issue with Stephen Wood and no-one had ever questioned his professionalism, capacity or capability,” she said.

“Mark McGowan’s suggestion that he was not satisfied with the way the tourism portfolio was being managed is a cop out.

Mr Wood had an impossible task to manage the unique and significant portfolio of tourism, in addition to the departments of Jobs, Science and Innovation. 

“Mark McGowan rushed through his machinery of government changes, without waiting for the outcomes of his Priority Services Review, and now he is throwing experienced, respected and well qualified public servants under the bus because of his failed reforms.”

Ms Mettam said Tourism WA needed a dedicated CEO and the premier’s poor decision was a distraction from the real issue.

“Other states have tried pushing tourism into a mega department and it hasn’t worked,” Ms Mettam said.

“The fault lies not in the individual but the decision of this government to relegate tourism into a mega department and to provide a part-time CEO function.

Commenting on recent figures showing a slump in tourist arrivals in WA, Mr McGowan sought to turn the issue on the opposition.

“The tourism figures from 2017 highlight the years of neglect by the former Liberal-National government, we’re confident we can turn this around putting our two-year plan into action,” he said in a statement.

The Tourism Council WA has previously criticised the lack of action, saying the government has made tourism, jobs growth and economic diversity a top priority but there was a huge gulf between the government’s plans and what is being delivered on the ground.

Chief executive Evan Hall said last month the bureaucratisation of the state’s tourism and international education marketing had resulted in a lack of specialised leadership at the top of Tourism WA.

"The position of Tourism WA CEO is currently being filled on a part-time basis by the director general of the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science & Innovation, who has no prior experience in tourism," Mr Hall said.

"Furthermore, the head of marketing position at Tourism WA is substantially vacant."

“We urge the state government to urgently appoint a dedicated, full-time CEO with tourism marketing experience to lead Tourism WA."

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