News

Working holiday visa tax hike will hit regions hardest: YHA

TOURISM in regional Queensland and northern New South Wales will be among the worst hit by an $80 tax hike on working holiday visas, the head of Youth Hostels Australia has warned.

The increase in the charge would raise an extra $52 million to line the Federal Government's coffers, and would be paid by working holiday-makers in application for a temporary visa.

YHA chief executive Julian Ledger said he was concerned the government had already increased the charge by 2.5 times since 2005 in Euros - the biggest part of the working holidaymaker market.

"We estimates that the working holiday market generated more than $500 million in income tax revenue for the government in 2011-12, based on the 185,000 odd visas that were given out," he said.

"It's just not good policy to increase the front-end fee on people who are contributing to the regional economy by working, and to government revenues through tax.

"These are people who even before they leave the United Kingdom, or whatever country, they have to show evidence they've already saved at least $5000 minimum.

"They also save up to pay for their airfares, and now the government wants to add an extra $80 to their up-front fee."

Mr Ledger said the YHA believed the fee should be set at the cost of providing resources to deal with the immigration and airport processing, not as a revenue raising measure in its own right.

But while the increased charge will be put on all working holiday makers, Mr Ledger said he believed it would have a great impact in regional Queensland and NSW.

"Australia is a long haul destination for these visitors - they come here from further away, stay longer, and spend more time in regional Australia," he said.

"We think increasing the charge could deter some travellers from even considering Australia for their trip, and many of those that do come; they spend a lot of time and money in regional Queensland particularly.

"With the Australian dollar still so high, young people don't have to come to Australia - there's other countries they can visit, and we think they will."

 

Ferguson dodges backpacker row and energy protest

AN $80 hike in working holiday-maker visa charges was ignored by Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson when he addressed the backpacker industry on Thursday.

Mr Ferguson and his Opposition counterpart Bob Baldwin spoke to the Australian Backpacker Industry Conference in Sydney.

The annual industry meet comes just weeks after the government increased the upfront charge tourists pay for Working Holiday Visas to add an extra $52 million to bolster the budget surplus.

Mr Ferguson spoke about the recently opened Tourism Industry Regional Development Fund, part of a deal with the independents; he made no comment about the increased charges.

He said regional tourism businesses should be confident the number of working holiday-makers would continue; based on a rise in demand for the visas of 15.6% between 2010-11 and 2011-12.

In his comments on the visa itself, he said the government was actively negotiating now visa arrangements with Indonesia, Argentina and Greece, among other countries.

But numerous industry players, including the youth hostels sector, expressed much concern about the increase in costs.

Mr Baldwin's speech to the conference centred on the increase, telling the industry to "keep driving home the message "stop taxing tourism"".

He said he was concerned the government had not modelled the effects on visitor numbers the increase to the charge could have.

"The best industry assessment to hand indicates if the $80 fee increase goes ahead it would take a decrease of only 3% in working holiday maker applications before the Federal Government was a net loser due to the reduction in tax receipts from working holiday makers," he said.

Meanwhile, in Melbourne,  protesters have interrupted Mr Feguson's release of the government's energy white paper.

A little over a week after Opposition Leader Tony Abbott was interrupted by two Melbourne protestors, the two men were at it again.

During a rather dry policy speech from Resources Minister Martin Ferguson on energy market reform, the two men jumped on stage to "thank him" for everything he'd done to help the coal industry.

With tongue firmly planted in cheek, the two men, calling themselves 'Twiggy Palmcock and Michael Higgins Beaumont', patted him on the shoulder and danced around the podium shouting "Thank you Fergo".

Understood to be students at a Melbourne university, the men are part of a group called Quit Coal, which in recent months has staged various protests around the Victorian capital.

One of them, armed with a photo of Minister Ferguson's head on a popsicle, got through what little security there must have been during the speech at the Centre for Economic Development function.

Topics:  backpackers coal global warming martin ferguson


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Ballina koalas faced with extinction

Ballina's koalas are under threat.

About 36,000 koalas left in NSW face an uncertain future

An emotional Mike Baird: 'There was great personal cost'

"After 10 years in public life, this moment for me has arrived."

Surfer calls for second shark net off one coastal town

SIGNS OF SUPPORT: Young protesters make their opinions clear at a rally in support of shark nets at Ballina last November. More than 500 people attended the event calling for the immediate installation of the nets. PHOTO: ALINA RYLKO/ THE NORTHERN STAR

Kids surfing near the Lennox Hotel are at risk of shark encounters

Local Partners

41-year-old playgroup under threat of closing down

IT'S been an important part of the Ballina community for decades, but this playgroup could be forced to shut its doors.

See turtles up close on rescue centre tour

SPLASH: This green sea turtle, held by Australian Seabird Rescue general manager Kath Southwell, splashed some of the children on a tour of seabird rescue's headquarters.

The turtles don't mind giving the tour groups a splash, too

Shrek on stage

POPULAR MUSICAL: Shrek (River Fullagar) interrupts the wedding, shocking Fiona (Hillary Goodsell), the Bishop (Grace Pateman) and a furious Farquaad (Lachlan McGeary) in the Ballina Players' latest production.

The best-known green ogre is the star in Ballina Players production

Humble Cortina expected to shine at show

BOYS TOYS: Members of the North Coast Street Machines (from left) Errol Beaumont, Steven Fitness, Les Eckersley and John Stanford are ready for this Sunday's show and shine in Ballina, with their vehicles (from left) 1964 EH Holden, 1962 S Series Valiant, 1934 Ford, 1969 XW GT Falcon and a 1974 L Cortina.

There aren't many who can say they own thefirst car they bought

Naomie Harris in the dark over Daniel Craig's future as 007

Naomie Harris has no idea if Daniel Craig will be returning as 007

REVIEW: Will Kasey Chambers' Dragonfly take off with fans?

Kasey Chambers’ new album Dragonfly gets 3.5 stars from Cameron Adams.

CHAMBERS is back with her 11th studio album.

Ed Sheeran wants Beyonce collaboration

Ed Sheeran wants to record a duet with Beyoncé.

Nicole Kidman squirms through questions on Keith

Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban

'God, you guys are personal ... that’s for him to talk about'

Mark Salling's child porn court date cancelled

Mark Salling's upcoming court hearing has been cancelled

Steve Carell pulls cruel prank on fans of the office

Steve Carrell decided to pull a cruel prank on fans of The Office

Thousands of jobs part of $1b retirement village project

THIS YEAR: An artist impression of the new Aveo retirement village in Springfield.

Aveo Springfield unveiled this month, homes ready by July

KNIFE-EDGE: The housing tightrope we now face

Even the smallest interest rate rise will be hard for some to handle.

One if five home owners at risk, according to new analysis

Historical home leaves family's hands after 75 years

SALE CONFIRMED: The Gympie Regional   Realty team which sold the Ramsey property are (back) Mel Gastigar, Dorothy Palmer and Margaret Cochrane, with (front) home seller Terri-Jayne Ramsey.

Ramsey family played a huge role in Gympie's growth.

Pat Rafter's $18m Coast home proves hot property

PAT'S PAD: The Sunshine Beach home of tennis ace Pat rafter is on the market for a record price.

"It's a record for our company and for the Sunshine Coast.''

INTERACTIVE MAP: Which Northern Rivers towns boomed in 2016?

BOOM TOWNS: While Ballina properties continued to attract top dollar in 2016, it was areas to the south that experienced price hikes, including Wardell, Evans Head and Woodburn.

Click on our map to find the median sale price in your town

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!