Americans and others who want to offer their yachts for charter Down Under might get their wish. The deputy prime minister has introduced a bill that, if passed, will permit foreign superyachts to charter in Australia.
The bill is the Special Recreational Vessels Bill 2019. It bears the backing of the executive branch of the country’s government, led by the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison. It is not yet law, however, since it still needs to go before Parliament. If both houses agree to it in identical form, and the Governor-General agrees to it, it then becomes law.
Regardless, if passed, the act will grant charter yachts a special recreational-vessel temporary license, limited to 12 months. Passenger head count will be limited, too, to 12 people.
Understandably, the local marine industry supports the idea of foreign superyachts to charter in Australia. “If this bill is passed, it is likely we could see a doubling of the visitation to the Great Barrier Reef region with not only a higher number of vessels, but a longer duration of stay,” says Joanne Drake, manager of the SuperYacht Group Great Barrier Reef. “With the news of this possibility breaking internationally, I’ve been inundated with inquiries today from captains asking if new regulations are in place yet. We are also currently in communication with a very large superyacht wanting to book a charter before Christmas out of Cairns, with four large super- and megayachts already interested in visiting for charter purposes next year!”
In the long term, “Huge events in the Pacific over the next 18 months will mean large numbers of superyachts will be in our region,” states David Good, CEO of the trade organization Superyacht Australia. In fact, he says, between the Tokyo Olympics in July 2020 and the America’s Cup in Auckland the following year, about 160 superyachts should visit the region.
Superyacht Australia further cites the economic impact of charter. “Regions that have a high level of charter activity receive increased international marketing exposure, which then encourages further investment in locally based vessels, infrastructure, and repair facilities,” Good asserts. He also points out that New Zealand, Fiji, and Tahiti all permit charter yachts to come and go without hindrance. Currently, for foreign superyachts to charter in Australia, they must be fully imported.
Australia has been pushing for more megayacht charters for several years. Trade organizations cite the above-mentioned importation as well as a goods-and-services tax levied on the value of the yacht as obstacles. The pending legislation would eliminate these.
Superyacht Australia superyacht-australia.com