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.

Police investigating Ballina incident

Do you recognise this man? Police would like to speak with him.

Can you identify this man?

Rubbish collections back on agenda

BULKY RUBBISH: A Ballina Shire mayoral candidate has raised the issue of kerbside collections for the region.

Kerbside collections of bulky rubbish on the agenda

Latest deals and offers

Legal poppies will make you die, not high

A NEW crop will be popping up across the state after all sides of politics agreed to lift a ban on poppy seed farming for medical use.

Police investigating Ballina incident

Do you recognise this man? Police would like to speak with him.

Can you identify this man?

Rubbish collections back on agenda

BULKY RUBBISH: A Ballina Shire mayoral candidate has raised the issue of kerbside collections for the region.

Kerbside collections of bulky rubbish on the agenda

Battle over North Coast lake road continues

BATTLE FOR ROAD: Lennox Head's Stop the Lake Road Closure committee spokesperson Pip Carter (back, left) with NSW Minister for Sport, Stuart Ayres who has described the decision to close the road as odd.

Battle to keep road open is not over

Local teen actor to star in cult horror

Nicholas Hamilton.

Nicholas Hamilton, 16, has cemented his Hollywood career

John Williamson winding up for another Gympie Muster

John Williamson is bringing some new songs and artists to this year's Muster.

John Williamson is back and ready to put on his best show ever

Tom Hiddleston's Instagram account hacked

Actor Tom Hiddleston

Thor star the latest celebrity targetted by hackers

Charlize Theron's son dresses up as Frozen character

Actor Charlize Theron

Star's son spotted dressed a beloved Frozen character

BOOKS: Food for thought in Caroline Beecham's latest novel

Maggie's Kitchen by Caroline Beecham is published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $29.99.

New novel reminds readers that bravery exists in many forms

TELEVISION: New show is a Survivor, for now

Jonathan LaPaglia hosts the TV series Australian Survivor.

WHAT happens when a new show with a big budget flops?

Rachel Weisz understands celebrity gossip fascination

Actor Rachel Weisz

Weisz says mystery is good for an actor

Gina Rodriguez relished dramatic change for new film

Jane the Virgin lead Gina Rodriguez

TV star shaved her hair for movie role

REVEALED: Pat Rafter's $18m Coast house on the market

Check out the photos of the Coast's most expensive property for sale

The "correction we had to have" in Gladstone's rentals

UPWARD MARCH: The rental vacancy rate in Gladstone has improved for the first time in more than a year, providing a confidence boost in the market.

Vacancy rates improve with signs that things are getting betterF

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

Investors eye Gladstone's $4m island with resort approval

UP FOR SALE: Turtle Island is on the market.

CHINESE and Sydney investors flag interest in Gladstone island.

Take a sneak peek at this $19m Whitsunday mansion

Mandalay House features a private helipad.

Mandalay is currently on the market with an asking price of $19m