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New Australian visa charges to impact international performers

New Australian visa charges to impact international performers
October 7, 2016

Huge increases in visa processing fees for international touring groups are set to hit Australian fans of live performance events.

Live Performance Australia (LPA) has called on Federal Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to overturn the increased fees which are due to come into force next month.

LPA Chief Executive Evelyn Richardson said the Federal Government’s decision to scrap the long-standing group discount for entertainment visas for overseas touring groups would hit the financial viability of international tours, leading to fewer tours, reduced job opportunities for Australian performers and workers in the live performance industry, and higher ticket prices.

Richardson explained “visa processing fees are being increased by up to 600% which could stop touring artists from coming to Australia altogether.

“This is a massive money grab by the Government, which is being introduced under the guise of a new online visa processing system that is supposed to cut red tape and streamline visa approvals.”

The LPA has cited the example of Byron Bay’s world-renowned Bluesfest which attracts a strong contingent of international performers.

In addition to the annual festival event, many of the touring acts also do side shows in capital cities or regional areas.

However, under the new charges, the visa processing fee for the organisers of Bluesfest have soared by 600% to $55,000.

Other festivals such as Splendour in the Grass and the Falls Festival face visa fee increases of more than 200% for their international artists.

Richardson added “these new fees add significantly to the cost of touring Australia, and will act as a major disincentive for international artists to come here compared to opportunities in other markets.

“Australians who go to a live performance event or who work in the industry will be the biggest losers under this new scheme, as well as those who work in local tourism and hospitality businesses especially in regional communities.”

Richardson said LPA was also seeking clarification around changes to the exemption from visa fees for not-for-profit organisations and those which received government funding.

She concluded “to date, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection hasn’t been able to provide certainty or clarification on this issue which is affecting the ability of live performance companies to plan for their upcoming summer tours.

“LPA has raised our concerns with the Minister and is seeking an urgent meeting to resolve these issues which will have a hugely detrimental effect on Australia’s live performance industry.”

The new online system comes into force on 19th November 2016.

Although LPA handles around 20% of entertainment visa applications, the Federal Department of Immigration and Border Protection has denied it the opportunity to participate in testing of the new system before it is launched. 

Images: Byron Bay Bluesfest (top) and Evelyn Richardson (below).

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