Perspective – March 2014
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The state election rollercoaster – and why it
matters to travel and tourism
By Jay Westbury, chief executive Australian Federation
of Travel Agents
ELECTIONS in Tasmania and South Australia earlier this month held out the prospect of the Liberal/National coalition having power in all states and federally.
At time of writing the result in South Australia was unknown meaning that if the Libs do form government in SA it will be with at least two independents’ support.
Deja Vu! We all recall how well that worked with the Gillard/Rudd previous Federal Government.
The more probable result will be a Labour win in SA. In the end no matter which party wins what is needed is a majority rather than some deal with some independents. We shall see.
But again regardless of the South Australian result, Tasmania has a new Liberal Government and Premier Will Hodgman has been waiting a very long time. In fact Labour has been in government in Tasmania for 16 years and Will Hodgman has been the opposition leader for the past seven years, so he has had plenty of time to form a plan for the state.
State politics is a complex environ-ment and a never ending roller coaster for industries that rely on a national platform.
The travel and tourism industry is one such industry and lets just hope that as these new governments come into power they embrace many of the reforms and polices that are being rolled out across the industry.
One reform that AFTA has been working on with the Tourism and Transport Forum is known as the “Tourism Shopping Reform”.
The concept of this policy is to move the refunding process of eligible GST refunds on purchases when visitors or residents are departing to private providers. Currently this process is delivered via Customs and is somewhat antiquated and particularly manual.
AFTA and the TTF along with other industry groups have been calling for the privatisation of this process.
This would allow refund companies to come into the market and bring with them state of the art technology which allows a range of options for GST refunds on eligible purchases.
Many of you will be familiar with the systems in other countries like Singapore and across most of Europe. I am sure you will have experienced these private providers delivering your refund in a range of ways.
For example; in London if you have done any shopping at Harrods you can actually get most of the process completed in store with a simple verification process as you leave the airport.
If you can believe this, because this process has a GST ramification, unanimous support of all states and territories is needed to get this reform over the line. Sound familiar?
And I can assure you it is not easy to get all these governments to agree simultaneously to do something like this. So let’s watch as two new governments get formed in Tasmania and SA.
I am hopeful they will see the benefit of this reform which would streamline the process and bring Australia in line with many of the countries that we compete with across the Asia Pacific region.
Jay Westbury’s AFTA View column appears monthly.