Australian Biz Concerned Over Visa Fees Hike

Peak music association Live Performance Australia has called for an urgent meeting with Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. Entertainment visa applications will lose long-standing discounts on Nov. 19.  

This will hurt tours by major acts who travel with large entourages. TEG Dainty says that applications for the 80 traveling on the Guns N’ Roses tour early 2017 goes from A$7,200 ($5,465) to A$22,000 ($16,690). Major acts with large entourages visiting Down Under in coming months include Bruce SpringsteenJustin Bieber and Green Day, all for Frontier Touring, Barry Gibb for Live Nation, and Keith Urban for Chugg Entertainment.

For a festival like Bluesfest Byron Bay with a huge international contingent on its 2017 bill – including Gibb, Neil Young and Patti Smith – visa application costs go up by 600 percent or A$55,000 ($41,740). Others such as Splendour in the Grass and Falls Festivals will see their costs rise by 200 percent.

Both Bluesfest director Peter Noble and Michael Chugg of Chugg Entertainment have indicated that costs will have to be passed on to consumers – at a time when patrons are more ticket price savvy than ever before.

Live Performance Australia’s chief executive also warned that rising ticket prices would be a consequence, and that anything affecting the financial viability of tours and festivals would lead to a drop in volume and reduced opportunities for workers in the live industry.

Richardson said, “Visa processing fees are being increased by up to 600 percent 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.”

LPA handles 20 percent of entertainment visa applications, but it was not offered the chance to test the new online application process before it launched.