Anyone who watches Oprah is familiar with her gifts to her studio audiences.  At first she started giving her audiences things like books, but it progressed to more pricey gifts like camcorders and refrigerators and even cars.  This year, to mark the season premiere of the 25th season of Winfrey’s daytime talk show, she announced to the audience that they would each be given a free eight-day trip to Australia.  As you might imagine, the audience promptly went bonkers.

But they say there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and surprisingly it’s the Australian government who are going to be footing the bill for some of the travel arrangements.  The federal and New South Wales state governments are contributing a combined $2.8 million to help bring the American tourists in, as a ploy to help boost Australia’s ailing tourism industry.  The government has asked that the media not report the initiative with pessimism, as they see it as an investment in Australia’s future.  Nonetheless, I can hear the Aussie grumbles all the way from this side of the world.



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