SHOCK! Coali­tion MP speaks against PMC

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

TREA­SURER Scott Mor­ri­son claims the lat­est $5 in­crease in the Pas­sen­ger Move­ment Charge (de­par­ture tax ) is needed to cover the rev­enue lost by scal­ing back the planned back­packer tax. “The back­packer in­dus­try is $5 bil­lion a year or there­abouts for the tourism in­dus­try,” he said. “I mean these back­pack­ers are spend­ing this money on the tourism in­dus­try in re­gions all across the coun­try. So they (the tourism in­dus­try) are the prin­ci­pal ben­e­fi­cia­ries of these mea­sures (to re­duce the planned back­packer tax).” For­tu­nately there is at least one Coali­tion MP willing to speak out against in­creas­ing the de­par­ture tax. “This tax is a per­ni­cious im­post on our avi­a­tion and tourism sec­tors which are al­ready un­der pres­sure,” he thun­dered. “Tax in­creases are de­signed to dis­cour­age con­sump­tion and so plac­ing a tax on travel is de­signed to dis­cour­age, I as­sume there­fore, busi­ness ac­tiv­ity in the travel sec­tor.” The name of this out­spo­ken MP? Well, Scott Mor­ri­son ac­tu­ally. He was ad­dress­ing Fed­eral Par­lia­ment from the Op­po­si­tion benches in 2008 on the fis­cal ob­tuse­ness of the Rudd Govern­ment. And they won­der why the elec­torate is so dis­il­lu­sioned. Once again, the travel and tourism in­dus­try has been conned by a ver­sion of the pea and thim­ble trick. Right now there is no back­packer tax and Aus­tralia at­tracts to its shores hun­dreds of thou­sands of work­ing hol­i­day­mak­ers who per­form a dou­ble ser­vice to the coun­try – they un­der­take ru­ral jobs for which farm­ers and grow­ers can­not find lo­cal work­ers and they spend money ($5 bil­lion did you say, Scott?) that helps to keep re­gional economies tick­ing over. En­ter politi­cians with a hare­brained scheme to kill the goose that laid the golden egg with a 32.5% back­packer tax. In the re­sul­tant up­roar it emerges that the prospect of such a tax will see a dra­matic dry­ing-up of vis­it­ing back­packer num­bers. An elec­tion gen­er­ates a flood of weasel words con­vey­ing the im­pres­sion of a re­treat from the back­packer tax if the Govern­ment is re­turned. But we still get a back­packer tax (al­beit a lower rate should do much less harm to in­com­ing num­bers) plus a few sweet­en­ers. And then the Govern­ment slaps on a 9% de­par­ture tax hike to cover a rev­enue short­fall that was never there in the first place. As Tourism and Trans­port Fo­rum chief ex­ec­u­tive Margy Osmond put it: “They are now ex­pect­ing us to pay for them mak­ing a de­ci­sion that was bad in the first place.”

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