Holiday tax hike in the Senate, introducing some new faces & TTF Leadership Summit filling up

The Federal Government’s working holiday maker reform package including the proposed hike to the holiday tax – the Passenger Movement Charge – passed the lower house of the Parliament on Monday and will be sent to a quick Senate inquiry before the Senate resumes on November 7. I headed down to Canberra on Tuesday to continue our dialogue with MPs and Senators on why industry is vehemently opposed to increasing the holiday tax to $60 on travellers from 1 July 2017.

All MPs and Senators received a ‘gift’ from AFTA and TTF – a washcloth and a flyer detailing our case to block the holiday tax hike. The washcloth is of course a reference to Treasurer Scott Morrison’s colourful turn of phrase when he announced the backpacker tax package that it “must wash its face” (see our advocacy section for more details). Our message to our political leaders is that the tourism industry is more than ‘washing its face’ with the taxes and charges already levied on the sector.

The next week’s Senate inquiry is a platform for the industry to make its case for not increasing the holiday tax on Australia’s growing visitor economy. I strongly encourage all interested members to put in a submission which are due at the end of this week and make themselves available to appear before the inquiry if possible. It is time for the industry to stand up and say no more to being a ‘cash cow’ for the Federal Government.

TTF does not accept that the holiday tax hike must be considered lock-step with the backpacker tax package. The reform package for working holiday makers should be supported by the Parliament to allow industry to secure its workforce and work to rebuild the working holiday market. The holiday tax hike, on the other hand, will impact on 9.7 million Australians and 8 million international visitors departing the country and needs to be seriously scrutinized by policymakers on what its full impact will be before it becomes law. The backpacker tax has been a mess of the Government’s own making. It should never have included an increase to the Passenger Movement Charge in the reform package and TTF will make the strongest case why hiking the holiday tax should be abandoned.

On a happier note, I’ve very pleased to announce that we have bolstered the TTF policy and advocacy team with some new and very experienced faces – Sam Moreton, Tony Harrington and Susan Streeter.

Sam Moreton will be heading up the team as our new Policy & Research Director following roles in the NSW and Australian Governments in the portfolios of Transport, Roads, Ports, Economic Reform and Industry Innovation and Science.  Sam joins us from AusIndustry where he worked nationally delivering business improvement under the National Innovation and Science Agenda following roles in the NFP sector, as a partner with leading bi-partisan policy and advocacy firm GRA and ten years as Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to Government Ministers in NSW.  Sam holds degrees in Law and Government and is committed to policy development, service reform and advocacy bringing together diverse stakeholders from business, government, research institutions and NFPs.

Tony Harrington is our new Aviation Policy Advisor. Tony has extensive aviation experience in Australia and overseas, most recently as Senior Manager Strategic Communications for the Etihad Aviation Group, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, where he was involved in major international advocacy and communications campaigns. Prior to this, Tony represented carriers serving Australia including Air New Zealand, Hawaiian Airlines, LAN Airlines and China Southern Airlines, and offline carriers including Air France, KLM, Air Tahiti Nui and SriLankan Airlines, having previously been a senior member of the Qantas communications team.

Susan Streeter, who many of you have probably been in contact with over the past month, has joined as our Policy & Research Advisor. Susan has extensive experience in industry associations, working in policy positions in the past for the Energy Networks Association and the NSW Minerals Council. Susan has also worked in policy and research roles in NSW Departments and agencies. She has a BA in Political Science and Philosophy, an MBA, and a Master of Arts (Business Research).

Don’t forget to make sure you reserve your spot at the annual TTF Leadership Summit at Parliament House Canberra on Wednesday 23 November. Registration is now open and we’ve already been inundated with people securing their spots to our premier event. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten have already confirmed that they will deliver keynote addresses at the Summit. With all the action going on with the backpacker and holiday taxes, this is an important opportunity to show that the tourism and transport sectors will not be taken lightly by any Government.