Next stop Australian Transport Summit, working holiday makers reject backpacker tax, and Australia on top of liveable cities

I’m keenly looking forward to the Australian Transport Summit on Friday. TTF and UITPANZ are bringing some of the best and brightest transport minds in Australia and from overseas together in Sydney to discuss the big trends transforming public transport – innovation and technological disruption. I hope that you’ve all made sure to get your registrations in. If you’ve been a bit tardy, we may be able to squeeze you in if you get in touch with the TTF events team post-haste.

I’m starting to feel like a broken record on the backpacker tax but the case continues to build for the Federal Government to abandon this ill-considered tax hike on working holiday makers. Yesterday, our friends at YHA, in partnership with Monash University, released the results of a survey of 335 international working holiday makers.

The results of the survey show that the Federal Government is risking a 60 per cent exodus of working holiday makers to other destinations such as New Zealand and Canada if they insist on pushing ahead with the backpacker tax. The survey also showed that 57 per cent of working holiday makers said they would spend less time travelling in Australia and 69 per cent would spend less on tours with a 32.5 per cent tax on every single dollar they earn.

These results have come straight from the horse’s mouth – working holiday makers have sent a clear message to the Federal Government, “treat us like a cash cow and we are out of here!” I hope that the Government will finally heed this message and abandon the tax following the working holiday maker visa review that is currently underway. TTF is working on our submission to this review but rest assured that working with our other industry group allies we will continue to campaign hard to stop the backpacker tax.

Time for some good news. We found out last week that three of Australia’s capital cities – Melbourne (1st), Adelaide (5th) and Perth (7th) – have made the cut for the Top 10 liveable cities in the world according to The Economist Intelligence Unit. If we are a little cheeky we can even say that we have four in the Top 11 with Sydney having just dropped out due to – I believe unfairly – rising concerns of terrorism.

This result is of course no excuse to rest on our laurels. Liveability should be guarded jealously and that means continuing to invest in public transport, maintaining security and stability, and expanding arts and culture – these are all indicators which attract international visitors to a city and that flows on to major economic decisions to invest, trade, study, conference and live in our cities.

Every Australian city should use this index as an incentive to double its efforts to improve the functioning of our cities. State and Territory Governments across Australia have ambitious plans for major transport infrastructure and we are seeing key projects such as the Melbourne Metro and the Sydney Metro getting underway – we need to see action to get more of these types of projects underway.

The Federal Government needs to use the next term of parliament to turbo-charge the major transport infrastructure being built in our leading cities. We know that the benefit of such an investment has long-term benefits to the liveability of our cities and, as the departing RBA Governor has pointed out, has national benefits in growing the economy, supporting jobs and our quality of life.

What great timing for the Australian Transport Summit. See you on Friday!