Travel Bulletin - - STATE OF THE INDUSTRY - Ian Mcma­hon’s per­spec­tive

IT MUST surely be deemed cruel and un­usual pun­ish­ment to have a 56-day fed­eral elec­tion cam­paign in­flicted on us im­me­di­ately af­ter en­dur­ing all the flim-flam, ver­biage and “ex­pert” prog­nos­ti­ca­tion sur­round­ing the Fed­eral Bud­get. How­ever there is one great ad­van­tage to the shenani­gans as­so­ci­ated with the process that en­ables us lucky Aus­tralians to have a say in the way we are gov­erned. By the time all the stunts, pic­ture op­por­tu­ni­ties, spin-doc­tor­ing, pos­tur­ing and gen­eral wind­bag­gery have ground to a halt on July 2, no one should be able to le­git­i­mately com­plain they are in any doubt as to where can­di­dates stand on the is­sues that are im­por­tant to them. The “what’s in it for me?” test, some­times de­scribed as the hip pocket nerve, is one way of de­cid­ing what is­sues are im­por­tant for us and al­ready there is clar­ity on the is­sue of busi­ness tax. The Coali­tion is of­fer­ing pro­gres­sive tax cuts for small busi­nesses with turnovers of up to $10 mil­lion. The La­bor Party, to its credit, has not at­tempted to fudge the fact that it will con­fine the lower tax rate to busi­nesses with turnovers of $2 mil­lion or less. For the travel and tourism in­dus­try, over­whelm­ingly com­prised of small busi­nesses, the choice is stark. On the per­sonal tax­a­tion front, the mea­gre cut of­fered to those earn­ing over $80,000 in­tro­duced in the Bud­get seems un­likely to have much im­pact on vot­ing in­ten­tions but it is a sop to stem­ming bracket creep and will go some way to un­der­pin­ning dis­pos­able in­comes and con­sumer con­fi­dence. On the other hand, yet an­other round of ex­ten­sive changes to su­per­an­nu­a­tion – how­ever jus­ti­fied some mea­sures may be – carry the risk of un­der­min­ing the con­fi­dence of re­tirees, one of the in­dus­try’s most im­por­tant mar­ket sec­tors. This is es­pe­cially true of the star­tling (for a Coali­tion Gov­ern­ment) de­ci­sion to in­tro­duce an ele­ment of ret­ro­spec­tiv­ity. On wider in­dus­try is­sues, we have en­tered the elec­tion cam­paign with Tourism Aus­tralia fund­ing in­tact and no in­crease to de­par­ture tax. How­ever the cost­ings of both sides seem to be based on op­ti­mistic rev­enue pro­jec­tions and the in­dus­try should be seek­ing iron­clad guar­an­tees that things won’t change af­ter the elec­tion if (when?) these pro­jec­tions fall short. And there is one “hot but­ton” is­sue the in­dus­try should be pur­su­ing re­lent­lessly through the hurly burly of the elec­tion, and that is the now de­ferred “back­packer tax”. We need to per­suade our politi­cians to drop this “Not Wel­come” sign to the lu­cra­tive youth mar­ket on a per­ma­nent ba­sis.

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