Perspective – May 2012

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Ian McMahon

Thanks for nothing!

HOW does this add up?

The Passenger Movement Charge (PMC) increases but the funds made available for facilitating passenger movements decrease?

What it adds up to is this: A government desperate to balance the Federal Budget for political reasons has seen the tourism industry as a cash cow that it can milk, regardless of long term consequences, in its attempts to bring as much revenue as possible into its depleted coffers.

These are the figures –
Australians expending their hard-earned money on an overseas holiday and visitors coming to this country to boost our economy with their spending will be hit with an increased PMC which rises from $47 to $55 from July 1 – a whopping 17 per cent increase.

In the financial year ahead the Government will rake in an additional $85 million to boost its take to well over $600 million. By 2015/16 this amount is forecast to exceed $1 billion.

It might be considered not unreasonable to expect that this pile of cash, collected in the name of funding passenger movements, will result in more money being spent to ease congestion at our airports and docks. On the contrary, there will actually be less money spent on passenger facilitation in real terms. The Orwellian title of Passenger Movement Charge masks a huge tax grab at the expense of the Australian tourism industry.

Funding for passenger facilitation and processing by Australian Customs and Border Protection Service has been reduced by $6 million to $212 million for 2012/13 and 2013/14, rising to $217 million in 2014/15 and $219 million in 2015/16. That’s less cash than in 2009/10 when the amount was $227 million – a huge drop in real terms after allowing for inflation and a fraction of the $1 billion being collected by the Government.

And the reduction in Customs funding comes despite forecasts of international passenger movements reaching a total of almost 38 million in 2015/16 (approximately 19 million arrivals and departures), up from 30 million movements in 2011/12.

The sop of allocating 10 per cent of the proceeds to an Asian marketing fund for Tourism Australia (TA) elicited dutiful welcomes from TA’s Geoff Dixon and Andrew McEvoy but it is a fig leaf that fails to cover the rip-off.

As Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF) chief executive John Lee said: “We will be saying to our overseas guests, ‘Welcome to Australia, please queue up over there for up to an hour while we decide if you can come in’. What kind of first impression does that give?

“Not only that, but we’ll be charging them 17 per cent more for the privilege.”

• An optimistic member of the tourism industry with his finger on the pulse in Canberra told me he was optimistic that the man who is almost certain to be our next Treasurer, Joe Hockey, a former Minister For Tourism, will haul back the PMC. Oh yeah. Wanna bet?

   

 

 

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