Australia reviewing border fees

25 Sep 14

AUSTRALIA

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? Australia is reviewing border-related fees, charges and taxes.

What does the change mean? Various fees and charges associated with coming to and leaving Australia—including the A$55 Passenger Movement Charge on all passengers departing on international flights or sea trips—could be altered. Visa application fees may also be reviewed.

  • Implementation timeframe: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: All fees and charges associated with travel to and from Australia.
  • Who is affected: The review will primarily affect business travellers and tourists.
  • Impact on processing times: There is no foreseeable impact on processing times at this point.
  • Business impact: Lower border fees and charges would be a boon for business in Australia, though it is still unclear how fees and charges will be changed once the review is completed.
  • Next steps: The review was announced earlier this month and is ongoing. A public comment period closes 31 October.

Background: Australia collects A$3 billion annually in border fees on top of “billions” more collected by Australia’s border agencies in other taxes and excises, said Immigration and Border Protection Minister Scott Morrison. Morrison ripped the Australian Labor Party, saying that under Labor’s leadership officials “consistently ram-raided visa fees to prop up their ailing budgets.” At the same time, however, he suggested business- and tourist-friendly policies must be weighed against funding effective border enforcement. Administering Australia’s border currently costs A$6 billion annually. Morrison said the review will be tasked with producing a “a budget neutral outcome.”

BAL Analysis: In conducting the review, officials will “strive to find the right balance between supporting Australia’s international competitiveness, relieving the administrative burden on industry and ensuring the costs of maintaining the integrity of our border are appropriately shared with those who use it,” Morrison said. It is not yet clear how Australia’s various border fees and charges will change. Australia’s Tourism & Transport Forum cautiously welcomed the fee review, but said officials must “consider reducing the burden of taxes and charges on visitors” and that a budget-neutral approach will limit the government’s ability to do that.

This alert has been provided by BAL Australia. For additional information, please contact australia@balglobal.com.

MARN: 9683856

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