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Wednesday, 12 February 1986
Page: 168

Senator CHILDS —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Aviation. Considerable concern has been expressed by the airline industry about the Government's proposal regarding alternative administration arrangements for the collection of the departure tax. What proposals, if any, is the Government considering in this regard?

Senator GIETZELT —The Senate will be aware that the previous Administration, the Liberal-National Party Administration, introduced a departure tax for all those persons leaving our international airports and proceeding overseas. That tax was designed primarily as part of a cost recovery scheme for those using the airlines to make a greater contribution to their upkeep and maintenance. Of course, that has the effect of placing less reliance on general tax revenue for the purpose of providing those facilities. The Government has decided to retain the current flat rate departure tax of $20 for adult passengers on international airlines, but the Government has expressed a view that the airlines themselves should be responsible for the collection of that departure tax from 1 July this year. The Government has made known to the airlines its preferred method of collection-namely, that it should be collected at the point of sale of the ticket. That has a number of advantages. Not only does it put us in line with many other countries overseas but also it eliminates the difficulty that passengers find themselves in from time to time of congestion at the departure point at the international airports. It also eliminates the need for passengers to have cash on hand to meet the commitment and, of course, it puts us in line with other countries, and therefore it follows the general pattern that has developed over the last couple of decades with more and more people travelling overseas.

Airline operators, of course, have raised some objections to this, but negotiations are taking place with the airline operators designed to minimise the difficulties. The Government recognises that some operators have objections to the scheme; nevertheless, the Government is determined that the general thrust of its proposals be accepted by the airline operators, because it believes not only that a contribution should be made but also that this is in the best interests of the passengers themselves.