Industry united in tax lobbying

Industry united in tax lobbying
By admin

Industry groups, led by the Tourism and Transport Forum with support from the Australian Federation of Travel Agents, are making last ditch efforts to overturn the $8 hike in the Passenger Movement Charge as debate over the tax continues to rage.

Groups are lobbying independent MPs and one green representative, Adam Bandt, as they seek to pull off an unexpected victory and kill the tax hike.

The increase, announced earlier this month, will see the PMC rise to $55. For the first time, it will also be subject to further increase each year by the rate of inflation.

AFTA chief executive Jayson Westbury described the chances of blocking the move as a “definite possibility”.

“It is one of those rare instances that affects both the inbound and outbound markets,” Westbury said.

One TTF member said frantic lobbying was underway in a “last ditch attempt to convince the government to overturn the increase”.

Industry estimates suggest the PMC already collects more than double the amount required to fund border agencies, including customs, quarantine and immigration, with the surplus going into “a black hole”, Westbury said.

While the cost of processing passengers is estimated to be around $240 million in 2011/12, revenue generated by the PMC will hit $660m.

It is also claimed the PMC reduces spending by inbound visitors by upwards of $800 million.

The National Tourism Alliance is also lending its weight to the lobbying, arguing the tax was originally intended as a “cost recovery measure”, but is now “an unjustified specific tax on tourism and a general taxation measure for government”.

While industry bodies have welcomed the additional $61 million for marketing in Asia, which will be funded by the PMC, that represents only 10% of the $610m in extra revenue that will be generated over the next four years.

As lobbying continues, it emerged that tourism minister Martin Ferguson apologised for the increase at a National Tourism Alliance meeting immediately after the budget. He previously assured the industry that a rise in the PMC would not happen.

“He said sorry and said he put up a good fight as to why it shouldn’t happen,” Westbury said. “I think the industry accepts that it needs to contribute to the costs of processing passengers but there is a massive over collection.”

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