Industry leaders have given evidence to a government committee as lobby groups continue to fight the proposed increases to the Passenger Movement Charge.
The Tourism and Transport Forum led the battle this afternon with managing director John Lee arguing to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee there is no logical reason for the hike.
The executive director of the Australian Airports Association, Caroline Wilkie and Tourism Australia general manager corporate affairs and strategy Simon Westaway were also expected to address the committee.
Lee argued the increases will slow the number of international visitors entering Australia without limiting the flow of Australians heading overseas, thereby severely damaging Australian tourism.
In addition, the hikes coincide with a reduction in customs funding, meaning incoming travellers will have to pay more for worse service – another deterrent.
Lee also raised comments made by tourism minister Martin Ferguson to Travel Today in Shanghai this week when he remarked the PMC was “nowhere near as high” as taxes in the UK and Europe.
For short haul economy flights “that is not the case”, Lee said, with Australia’s PMC the “highest in the developed world for short haul economy flights”.
The industry representations follow similar arguments presented to the House of Representatives Economics Committee earlier this week.
If passed, the bill will increase the tax to $55 from July 1, an increase of 17% on the current tax. It will also see the charge indexed to inflation, meaning the PMC could rise to almost $70 by the end of the decade.
While halting the bill at this stage is considered unlikely, industry bodies remain hopeful they can prevent the indexing of the charge.
The bill will go to a final vote on June 18. Until then, industry groups will continue to lobby the opposition and greens in order to overturn the increase.