Senate debates

Tuesday, 16 June 2020


Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Amendment (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Bill 2020; Second Reading

6:23 pm

Photo of Richard ColbeckRichard Colbeck (Tasmania, Liberal Party, Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

This Bill makes amendments to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 in order to waive the requirement for permit holders to remit the Environmental Management Charge to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority for the quarter 1 January to 31 March 2020. This is intended to provide financial relief to the Great Barrier Reef tourism industry and other relevant permission holders impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Government values the significant contribution of the tourism industry which welcomes so many of our visitors to the Reef every year. The Environmental Management Charge predominantly applies to tourism activities. The Bill is intended to relieve rising pressures on tourist program operators, and on other permit holders, associated with the Charge. This will provide much needed relief for the tourism industry and further encourage visitors to Reef.

We know this measure will be incredibly welcomed by industry, with the Whitsunday Charter Boat Industry Association telling me 'The backdate in the EMC waiver to January 1, and the $3 Million in further relief for our industry this will mean, could not have come at a more opportune moment… the removal of the need to pay the January-March EMC fees is more of a Godsend than you perhaps may have realised. We cannot thank you enough.'

The Environmental Management Charge is a tax primarily imposed on visitors to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The funds received from the Charge are important in the day-to-day management of the Marine Park and in improving its long-term resilience.

The Government will ensure that there is no reduction in revenue that goes to the management of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park as a result of this amendment.

Full details of the measure are contained in the Explanatory Memorandum.

Debate adjourned.