Travel Compensation Fund

25 Mar 2009 questionsarchive

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Consumer Affairs a question about the Travel Compensation Fund.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Under the Travel Agents Act, a person must not carry on a business as a travel agent, except as authorised by a licence under the act, and they must be a member of the Travel Compensation Fund in order to operate as an agent. The Travel Compensation Fund is a national body established under the jurisdiction, and its purpose is to provide compensation to consumers who purchase travel through an agent who has become insolvent.

There has been some discussion at COAG level, which has been looking at remodelling the scheme to a risk-based premium. It has been revealed through the online travel industry publication Travel Today that there is significant opposition to this revised system. In particular, I note the comments of the Australian Federal Travel Agents CEO and Magellan Travel. My questions for the minister are: has she received any advice of risk to tourism in South Australia as a result of the lack of confidence in this scheme, and has she received any advice as to the possibility of the collapse of this scheme if it is unviable?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for State/Local Government Relations, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Government Enterprises, Minister Assisting the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Energy) (14:38): Indeed, there are considerations around the way that the Travel Compensation Fund is operating for travel agents. Proposals have been put forward to redesign and manage that in a different way. To the best of my recollection, those discussions are still at that stage, that is, they are being considered, and various stakeholders are being engaged in discussions around that.

At this point, I do not believe that any decisions have been made to incorporate any changes. I am aware that making any changes will have impacts on various stakeholders, but so, too, will leaving the fund as it is operating at the moment. I understand that there are issues around the way the fund is currently travelling and is anticipated and predicted to be operating within the foreseeable future. I do not have those details with me today but I am aware that there are a number of quite vexed issues around the fund. To the best of my knowledge, no decisions have been made about any changes, and at this point in time we are still in discussion with stakeholders in terms of exploring different options and the sort of impact that it might have on various stakeholders within the industry.