The ever-surprising Immigration Minister Peter Dutton will be implementing a massive increase in Visa fees starting next next month, effectively scrapping the long-standing group discount for entertainment visas for overseas touring groups which means touring, ticketing, venue hire and essentially everything that goes into touring will skyrocket in price. That goes for major festivals as well.
As shitty as this sounds, the Live Performance Australia (LPA) Chief Executive Evelyn Richardson is gung-ho about changing Dutton’s decision, a decision that could spell the end of music touring in Australia.
Speaking on the changes, Richardson said “Visa processing fees are being increased by up to 600 per cent 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.”
As mentioned, the already fragile music festival scene will be affected by this. International artists usually tee up side shows during their time in Australia which is both a great experience for the artist and a chance for punters who cannot attend the festival to see their favourite artists perform. However, under these new changes, side show tours will become pretty much impossible.
The LPA wrote it best:
“For example, the world-renowned Bluesfest held each year at Byron Bay attracts a strong contingent of international performers. In addition to the festival event, many of the touring acts also do side shows in capital cities or regional areas. Under the new charges, the visa processing fee for the organisers of Bluesfest have soared by 600 per cent to $55,000. Other festivals such as Splendour in the Grass and the Falls Festival face visa fee increases of more than 200 per cent for their international artists.”
Ms. Richardson continued, saying “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.”
The new system will be put into action on 19 November 2016. Despite the fact that LPA handles around 20 per cent of entertainment visa applications, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection has denied it the opportunity to participate in testing of the new system before it is launched.
Read the full media release here.