Yesterday, Wednesday 28 September, the Federal Treasurer the Hon. Scott Morrison MP, provided an unacceptable justification for increasing the Passenger Movement Charge (PMC) from $55 per passenger to $60, a $5 or 9% increase.
The reasons given by the Treasurer for the increase, was that the tourism industry needs to “wash its face” by providing further contributions to the budget. He expressed that funding was needed from the PMC to pay for such things as e-gates, a counter terrorism unit and improved passenger facilitation. This is in fact a riddle, as the PMC at its current rate of $55 per passenger has, over the last three years, contributed more than $2.5 Billion and will contribute an additional $3 Billion over the forward estimates to more than cover these policies.
“The industry believes that we are not only “washing its face”, but we are washing the entire body and leaving the bathroom sanitised along the way,” said Jayson Westbury, AFTA Chief Executive.
In 2016/2017, the PMC at the $55 rate, will collect $1.03 Billion for the Commonwealth Government. Even when the total cost of the new automated departure gates and yearly staffing costs are included against the budget the Government will over charge travellers by $610 million. At the $60 rate the Government will over collect by $703 million.
“This demonstrates that the justification used by the Treasurer is simply wrong and out of order. The travel and tourism industry have been over supplying revenue to the budget by being successful, increasing the movements of passengers both inbound and outbound thereby providing via the PMC a significant amount of money to the budgetii ,” said Westbury.
“To suggest that we are not already washing our face by providing $1 billion is not true. The industry has no control over how the treasurer and the government decided to spend this money and clearly the amount of money being collected will have well and truly already paid for the various upgrades necessary to protect against terrorism and an improved passenger movement experience,” said Westbury.
“As the increase will need to be approved by the Parliament, AFTA and the travel industry is calling on Labor, the Greens and all of the cross benches to block this increase to the PMC as the Treasurer has failed to provide an appropriate justification,” said Westbury.
“The industry is insulted at the suggestion that we do not already pay our fair share of tax and contributions to the budget and the notion that we now need to wash our face in order to ensure that Australia remains at the leading edge of passage facilitation is not correct,” said Westbury.
“Every Australian that is planning an overseas holiday next year should object to their local member about this increase. Enough is enough and while $5 may not seem like a lot of money, it becomes a lot when you consider that the fee would increase to $60 per person meaning a family of 4 will pay $240 in tax for the privilege to leave Australia on their holiday,” said Westbury.
If this increase passes both houses the government is set to rake in an additional $293 million over the forward estimates. Taking $293 million from thousands of small business such as travel agents, who employ more than 30,000 Australians, is just bad policy.