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Britain's taxman reaches out to slug Aussie travellers.



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Warren Truss Leader of The Nationals Shadow Minister for Trade, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Federal Member for Wide Bay

M E D I A R E L E A S E

W o r k i n g h a r d , g e t t i n g r e s u l t s

Media contact: Paul Chamberlin 0419 233989 / 02 6277 4482 paul.chamberlin@aph.gov.au www.nationals.org.au

26 November 2008

Britain’s taxman reaches out to slug Aussie travellers

The Shadow Minister for Trade and Transport, Warren Truss, has condemned the decision of the British Labour Government to impose a new tax on passengers travelling by air to Australia.

The new tax announced by the Britain this week is being painted as a new charge to combat climate change but is in reality nothing more than naked protectionism and an attempt to prop up Britain’s ailing economy with a new source of tax revenue. The new tax makes a mockery of calls this month by international leaders for a new push on free trade.

“The British Government has decided to hit people flying to Australia with a new ‘air passenger duty’ that within two years will add up to $400 to the price of a ticket,” Mr Truss said. “Australia has been placed in the zone that cops the highest new tax, while flights within the UK and Europe will pay much less.

“Planes flying to Australia from Heathrow in London may actually only be in British-controlled airspace for a few minutes of a flight lasting the best part of a day - but they will be paying the tax to the British Government for the privilege of flying in international airspace.

“Australians travelling on a Qantas aircraft flying in Australian airspace on its way from the UK will be paying a tax to the British Government.

“At a challenging time when Australian tourism needs all the support it can get, our market will be severely damaged by this tax which is being marketed as a new method to help save the planet. This new tax will accentuate concerns that some governments just see climate change as an excuse for a new tax binge.

“Britain has unfortunately been the home of a lot of silly ideas being pushed by dark green fundamentalists, such as the ridiculous ‘food miles’ scheme. That idea has been knocked on the head by the UK Government but it is now trying to snow people that this new tax will send a ‘better environmental signal’ to the flying public.

“It will send a signal all right - that Britain is closing for business and is retreating from the world economy. The new tax takes no account of the environmental efficiencies being made in the fleet of planes that fly in and out of Australia, or that short haul flights in Europe create comparatively more greenhouse gases.

“This is a decision that is confounding in its stupidity and short-sightedness. Over time, it is actually more likely to provide governments and individuals with less money to aid the environment.”

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Mr Truss called on the Australian Government to take urgent action to have the British Government dump this new tax before it takes effect next year.

The new duty is a violation of provisions of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (the Chicago Convention) and probably the Australia / UK bilateral airservices agreement signed last year.

“The UK is improperly seeking to assert regulatory jurisdiction over aircraft movements outside of UK airspace. A flight from Australia will spend no more time in UK airspace than a flight from the United States or France, but it will pay much higher duty,” Mr Truss said.