Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie has welcomed a decision by the Productivity Commission to visit Kangaroo Island as part of its year-long review into concessions for remote Australian communities.
The Island was not listed among the nine public forums scheduled across Australia between March and May until the Centre Alliance MP wrote to the Commission earlier this month to ask for inclusion.
"The only forum scheduled for South Australia was in Andamooka, which I didn't think was fair, especially since I felt it was the Island's petition back in 2017 that kick-started the Commission's review in the first place," Ms Sharkie said.
"So after the election I wrote to the chairman of the Productivity Commission, Michael Brennan, to ask him to include Kangaroo Island.
"The Commission agreed and it is with great pleasure that I can confirm that the Productivity Commission is visiting the Island on Monday, July 8, and hosting a public forum at the Kangaroo Island Council Chambers in Kingscote from 2pm to 3.30pm."
Federal Government assistance for remote communities was first raised with Rebekha in 2017 when she was approached by local resident Lisa Thompson.
Unlike other islands around Australia, Kangaroo Island is not eligible for the Federal Government's Zone Tax Offset, Fringe Benefit Tax remote area concessions and Remote Area Allowance.
These provisions provide financial support to people living in remote areas and the locations are determined by geographic 'zones' as defined in tax legislation.
These zones remained largely unchanged since they were set up in 1945.
"I think it's inconsistent policy that Magnetic Island and the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland are all eligible, as are major urban centres such as Cairns, Townsville and Broken Hill, but Kangaroo Island is not so I was happy to take up the issue," Ms Sharkie said.
"I tabled a petition in Parliament signed by more than 779 islanders (nearly 20 per cent of KI's adult population) calling for the inclusion of KI in Tax Offset Zone B, and I lobbied numerous Ministers.
"Our hard work paid off when in late 2018 the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced that the Government had asked the Productivity Commission to undertake a review into remote tax assistance.
"I know many Islanders have made written submissions to the review but it is also really important for the community to put their case in person to the Commission so I welcome the decision to add KI to the list of public forums.
"This visit doesn't mean that the Productivity Commission is going to make the Island eligible for the Tax Offset but this is a chance for people to have their say about why Islanders need extra assistance.
"There are many ways to address the cost of the Backstairs Passage 'water gap', and this is just one option.
"However, if successful, this could put between $50 and several hundred dollars in the pockets of individuals and families on the Island, and that can make a big difference."
The forum is being held at the Kangaroo Island Council Chambers in Kingscote from 2pm to 3.30pm on Monday, July 8.
Islanders can learn more about the Productivity Commission review at https://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/current/remote-tax#draft