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Explanatory Memorandum

(Circulated by authority of the Treasurer, the Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP)

Chapter 6 Environmental Management Charge

Outline of chapter

6.1 Schedule 6 to this Bill amends the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 2019 to effectively waive the environmental management charge for the period 1 April 2020 to 31 December 2020.

Context of amendments

6.2 The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (Environmental Management Charge - General) Act 1993 and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (Environmental Management Charge - Excise) Act 1993 impose the environmental management charge. Part 13 of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 2019 provides for the amount of the environmental management charge and how it is to be collected.

6.3 The environmental management charge is a charge imposed on a number of different commercial operations in the Marine Park called chargeable permissions as defined in section 3 of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 and prescribed in section 211 of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 2019. Currently a charge is imposed of:

$6.50 per visitor for each day up to a maximum of 3 days (section 218 of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 2019); and
$3.25 per visitor for very short tours or tours that arrive late and depart early (sections 219 and 220 of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 2019).

6.4 This charge is called the standard tourist program charge. There are also other types of environmental management charges payable under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 2019.

6.5 The standard tourist program charge was due to increase to $7.00 per day on 1 April 2020 (and to $3.50 for tours that are three hours or less, or tours that arrive late and depart early) in accordance with the formula applied in section 217 and subsection 219(2) of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 2019.

6.6 Tourists, rather than tourist program operators, pay the standard tourist program charge with tourist program operators operating as collectors of the tax. The standard tourist program charge is an additional charge to the ticket price, adding to the total cost for a visitor to undertake a commercial tourism activity in the Marine Park, which is the intent of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 2019.

6.7 In addition to the standard tourist program charge, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 2019 provide for other fixed quarterly environmental management charges. This is a very small part of the total environmental management charge revenue. Some of these fixed charges are payable by tourists and the remainder are paid solely by the permission holder to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

6.8 In the context of broader economic pressures operating on tourist program operators and their ability to pass on increased costs to their customers, Schedule 6 to this Bill is intended to relieve rising pressures on tourist program operators associated with the collection of the standard tourist program charge and some forms of fixed environmental management charges.

Summary of new law

6.9 Schedule 6 to this Bill essentially results in a waiver of all environmental management charge payment requirements for the period 1 April 2020 to 31 December 2020.

Comparison of key features of new law and current law

New law Current law
Environmental management charge payments are waived for the period 1 April 2020 to 31 December 2020. A standard tourist program charge is imposed of $6.50 per visitor for each day up to a maximum of 3 days and $3.25 per visitor, for very short tours or tours that arrive late and depart early.

Detailed explanation of new law

6.10 The new law waives the standard tourist program charge for the period of 1 April 2020 to 31 December 2020. This waiver is repealed at the end of 31 December 2020. [Schedule 6, item 1, subsections 217(5) and (6)]

6.11 This waiver also applies to circumstances where a partial amount of the standard tourist payment charge would otherwise have been payable for tours that are three hours or less. [Schedule 6, item 2, subsections 219(3) and (4) of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 2019]

6.12 Similarly, the waiver applies to circumstances where a partial amount of the standard tourist payment charge would have been otherwise payable for tours that arrive late or depart early. [Schedule 6, item 2, subsections 220(3) and (4) of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 2019]

6.13 The fixed environmental management charges provided for under section 223 of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 2019 , which are payable by operators, are also waived for the period 1 April 2020 to 31 December 2020. A similar waiver applies to the fixed environmental management charges that are payable by visitors under section 224 of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 2019. These waivers are repealed at the end of 1 December 2020. [Schedule 6, items 4 and 5, subsections 223(5) and (6) and 224(5) and (6) of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 2019]

Application and transitional provisions

6.14 The amendments in Schedule 6 to this Bill will commence on 1 April 2020.


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