Environmental management charge

Important  information: EMC waiver period extended until 30 June 2022.

Through the 2021-22 Budget the Australian Government continues to support the tourism industry by extending the waiver of Environmental Management Charge (EMC) up to 30 June 2022 (previously 30 June 2021).

What does this mean for me?

EMC must not be advertised, collected from visitors, nor paid to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority until 1 July 2022.  More information about advertising requirements during the waiver can be found here.

As always, our staff are here to help you should you have further EMC related enquiries and can be contacted by phone 07 4750 0837 or email emc@gbrmpa.gov.au

Charging Framework Reform

Permit holders have long called for a review of the Marine Park fee charging system because it is complex and difficult to administer.  The far reaching impacts of COVID-19 travel restrictions on the marine tourism industry have further highlighted the administrative burden on small to medium businesses of the current system.

To address these issues, the Authority is conducting a review of the charging framework for the Marine Park, which includes the Environmental Management Charge (EMC) and the Permit Application and Assessment Fees (PAAFs), seeking to reform the complex arrangements and reduce red tape, thus supporting business efficiency.

EMC and PAAFs are charges which are paid by marine park visitors and/or permit holders to the Authority.

The review seeks to:

  • Deliver decreased regulatory and administrative burden for Marine Park users
  • Harness technology to provide an innovative and modern system that can continue to adapt to future needs
  • Support continued world-class management of the Marine Park
  • Align with the Australian Government’s Charging Framework and Cost Recovery Guidelines

A critical aspect to underpin this review is the engagement of an external consultant to provide economic and regulatory analysis.

The Authority has engaged KPMG to undertake this external analysis work, which will include:

  • Benchmark current charges and options against other charging structures for similar activities via a literature review.
  • Targeted surveys and interviews of current permit holders and representative bodies to document their sentiment about the current charging framework
  • Identify options for a modern charging framework.
  • Provide a comparative analysis of those options with respect to regulatory impact, cost and benefit, risk, and likely stakeholder acceptability.

Understanding the pros and cons of the current charging framework and consideration of other charging frameworks used elsewhere will inform the development of options for comparative analysis with respect to regulatory impact, cost and benefit, risk, and likely stakeholder acceptability.

A review of this charging structure is complex and broad stakeholder consultation will be a key aspect in further analysing a range of options following the completion of this initial economic and regulatory analysis. The review is expected to continue over the next two years, including systems development to support implementation.

Contact the review team at chargingreform@gbrmpa.gov.au

Have you submitted your EMC visitation data?

It is still very important that permission holders lodge quarterly tourism visitation data through the EMC Online portal as you have previously done for each quarter. Understandably, the Coronavirus pandemic has impacted businesses and necessary restrictions have limited trips undertaken since January 2020. This data is vital to industry and the management of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

NIL activity returns should continue to be lodged.

Other COVID-19 links include changes to permit processes and changes to special tourism permission.

What is the environmental management charge?

The environmental management charge (EMC) is a charge associated with most commercial activities, including tourism operations, non-tourist charter operations, and facilities, operating under a permit issued by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

For most tourism operations, Marine Park visitors participating in a tourist activity are liable to pay the charge to the permit holder, who then remits the charge to the Authority.

Other operations in the Marine Park, such as those involving the hire of equipment, installation and operation of tourist facilities, underwater observatories, sewage outfalls and vending operations, pay fixed quarterly charges to the Authority.

The funds received from the environmental management charge are vitally important in the day-to-day management of the Marine Park and in improving its long-term resilience. All funds received as environmental management charge payments are applied directly to management of the Marine Park.

At the same time, visitation information provided when environmental management charge is submitted greatly assists the Authority and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) in developing management arrangements for sustainable use of the Marine Park.

Does it apply to me?

The role of the permit holder is to collect and remit the environmental management charge to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority by the due date in accordance with Part 13 of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 2019.

As a permit holder in the Marine Park, you are responsible for:

  • collecting the correct amount of the environmental management charge
  • keeping accurate and up-to-date records of the environmental management charge
  • submitting the logbooks to the Authority by the due date, even when there is no activity
  • remitting all payments quarterly to the Authority by the due date
  • accurately advertising the environmental management charge

Regardless of private business arrangements you may make, as the permit holder it is your responsibility to ensure compliance with the legislative requirements of your permit and to ensure the full and timely lodgement of all environmental management charge returns and payments.

NOTE:  You are not required to pay GST on any environmental management charge collected.

Tourist related visitors – daily charges

The Standard Tourist Program Charge is $7.00 (full day) and $3.50 (part day) per visitor.

To review your records or lodge environmental management charge returns, please visit Environmental Management Charge Online (EMC Online).