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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment

Environmental Management Charge Finalised

16 October 1997

The Federal Government has confirmed the final arrangements for the collection of the Environmental Management Charge (EMC) for the Great Barrier Reef.

Environment Minister Robert Hill says the Government has accepted a proposal put forward by tourism operators to minimise the impact of collection of the fee.

"The Government's aim has been to achieve a fairer share between taxpayers and tourists who enjoy the Great Barrier Reef for the financial burden of managing and protecting this unique natural asset.

"The proposal agreed to by the Government achieves this aim and also takes into consideration concerns held by the industry over collection of the EMC.

"It also reflects the opinions and concerns of Coalition MP's and Senators from the region who had made strong representations on behalf of the industry."

Under the existing arrangements, a $2 EMC has been applied since January 1997 with a $4 Tourist Visitor Charge to be introduced from January 1, 1998. This arrangement was agreed to following consultation with industry groups.

Under the proposals put forward by tourism operators there will now be one fee only - a $4 EMC. Introduction of the revised fee has been delayed until 1 April 1998. Concessions have also been accepted for the revised $4 EMC:

The EMC will be collected by tourism operators in the same way as the original EMC was collected when introduced by the former Labor Government.

Senator Hill says the Government had accepted the compromise offer because it represented a win-win situation.

"We will achieve a fairer split of the cost of managing the Reef between taxpayers and visitors who use the Reef. We will also make significant savings through not having to set up a private collection scheme and address industry concerns that such a scheme could have been disruptive.

"The Government also believes the reduced fee as agreed to by the tourism operators does not represent an excessive burden on the industry."

Media contact: Matt Brown, 06 277 7640; 0419 693 515

Commonwealth of Australia