GOVERNMENT’S CASH GRABBINGHOLIDAY TA X
No sooner has the Federal Government finished picking one fight with the tourism industry over the backpacker tax that it’s now opened a new front by announcing it will hike its holiday tax – the Passenger Movement Charge – to $60 from 1 July 2017. The tourism industry is absolutely outraged that the Federal Government wants to hike its holiday tax in what is a blatant cash grab. There was no warning, no discussion before this was announced as part of the Government’s review of the backpacker tax. The latest overseas arrivals figures from the ABS confirm that nearly eight million international visitors came to Australia in the 12 months to August 2016. That is up 10.9% on the previous year. A great result but one we put at risk by making Australia a less competitive destination in the Asia-pacific by making travel more expensive. The approach to taxes and fees on the tourism sector is like the proverbial frog in the cold bucket of water that is slowly boiled alive by the ratchet up of these costs – an extra $5 to the Passenger Movement Charge here, an extra $10 to a visa there. It all adds up to more costly holidays and a disincentive to travel to Australia. We should be reducing the cost of travel, not adding to it if we want tourism to take its rightful place as a super growth industry for the Australian economy. As the Prime Minister said during the election campaign, ‘If you want less of something, tax it more’, and that is exactly what the Government’s current policy of viewing tourism as a ‘cash cow’ is going to deliver. The holiday tax is already raising $1 billion a year on travellers. There is absolutely no justification for it to be increased to $60. The Prime Minister and Treasurer talk about being a lower taxing Government but the tourism sector is squarely in the Government’s crosshairs for tax hikes and fee increases. The Federal Government would like to brush off its tourism tax hike as ‘just a cup of coffee’ but the reality is that the holiday tax on a family of four is now a $240 cash grab from the family holiday budget that could pay for an extra day’s accommodation, a theme park excursion or a couple of days’ car hire. If the Government is serious about supporting a strong future economy then it should be embracing policies that back our economic strengths which includes our growing visitor economy. The Government can demonstrate its support for the tourism sector by immediately scrapping its plan to hike the holiday tax to $60 from 1 July 2017 and work with the industry to attract more international visitors to Australia by making the sector more competitive.
We should be reducing the cost of travel, not it...’ adding to