Civil celebrant Gwen Simpson says the $600 annual fee slapped on civil celebrants by the Federal Government is a cash grab.
Civil celebrant Gwen Simpson says the $600 annual fee slapped on civil celebrants by the Federal Government is a cash grab. Chris Ison

Marriage celebrants slam fee

CELEBRANT Gwen Simpson is married to her job.

For 16 years she has married almost 1000 young and old couples in Rockhampton and hopes to keep the weddings coming for many years.

But Gwen is worried she and many other celebrants may not be able to after what she calls "the Federal Government's latest cash grab".

More than 10,000 celebrants will have to pay an annual registration fee of $600 under the Marriage Celebrants Program Reforms.

"That is not a miserable pittance," Gwen said. "That's a lot of money. What about the people out at Aramac, who only do four weddings a year?"

A survey of about 700 celebrants revealed 34% oversaw a maximum of five weddings a year.

The Government said the Professional Celebrants' Fee aimed to strengthen the professionalism of marriage celebrants and would benefit celebrants and the community.

They said people's circumstances would be considered during the consultation process before it is brought in in 2013.

Gwen said she understood the Government's reasons. "But why should we be penalised for other people doing the wrong thing?" she said.

The Government said all money collected from the fee would be returned to the administration of the program on a cost-recovery basis and would not generate revenue for them.

About 54% of the surveyed celebrants said they would raise their fees to cover it. "It's a bit like a Justice of the Peace," Gwen said. "It's a community service. This fee will knock out professional people."

 

NOT CELEBRATING

Survey of about 700 celebrants:

  • 56% voted the new fee was unacceptable
  • 22% voted the new fee was a poor idea
  • 54% said they would raise their fees to cover it
  • 32% said they were not sure if they would raise their fees to cover it
  • Most said they only did a maximum of five weddings a year
  • The fee will come in in 2013

Source: Australian Celebrants



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