One&Only; Hayman Island.
One&Only; Hayman Island.

This is isolation? Govt pays bonus for hard-living luxury

COULD you imagine the horror of living out your days on a luxurious island in the Whitsundays?

How about Hayman Island, the five-star super-luxe ocean resort where you can stay for a touch over $600 a night. It would be tough.


The Australian Tax Office describes the international tourist mecca as having "uncongenial climactic conditions".

It is considered tougher than living Queensland's inland mining communities like Moranbah, Rolleston, Blackwater or rural centres including Tamworth or Casino in New South Wales.

Plenty of entertainment at the Clermont Gold Cup Campdraft. Photo Rhiannon Finger / CQ News
The Clermont campdraft is a lot of fun, but even 380km from the coastline, locals don't qualify as isolated. Rhiannon Finger

Luckily those who live on Hayman Island - and all Whitsunday islands plus Mackay, Cairns and Townsville in Central Queensland - are given a little leg-up by the Federal Government.

This "Zone Tax Offset" has existed for 70 years.

According to the Australian Tax Office, the offset is for:


...Individuals residing in isolated areas in recognition of the disadvantage to which those persons are subject because of uncongenial climatic conditions, isolation and cost of living.

It exists to acknowledge the hardship felt by those in isolated communities - those that lie more than 250km from a town with at least 2500 people.

The calculations were done on the 1981 census, long before the era of the budget airline.


The bonus is not much - less than $60 a year --  but it shows how important it is to care for those live on a luxurious island or regional capital.

Officially these are known as areas with "uncongenial conditions".

The Australian Tax Office breaks these "offsets" into three zones. Zone A, Zone B or "special".

Zone A includes the northern half of Western Australia, the entirety of Northern Territory and swathes of western Queensland. That can be an annual rebate of more than $1000.


Monto farmer Annette Evans is doing everything she can to keep her cattle alive during the drought. Photo: Emily Smith / Central and North Burnett Times
Monto farmer Annette Evans is forced to feed cows fresh food on her drought-stricken property in Monto, but her region is not considered to have "uncongenial conditions" unlike Hayman Island in the Whitsundays Emily Smith


Zone B includes the southern parts of Western Australia outside Perth rural areas of South Australia and western parts of Queensland.

Beyond Rockhampton though, the Zone B area reaches the coastline, taking in Mackay, Townsville and Cairns. These refunds are $57 a year.

While Hayman Island residents may be entitled to a $57 bonus each year, those in rural Queensland towns of Gladstone, Moranbah, Clermont, Warwick, Toowoomba, Gympie, Dalby and Dysart are not eligible.

In New South Wales, Coffs Harbour, Ballina, Lismore, Nymboida, Kyogle are not eligible.

The Federal Government tightened restrictions around the Zone Tax Offset in the latest financial budget, cracking down on fly-in, fly-out workers who would claim the bonus because they worked in an isolated location but lived in an area not considered isolated.

Up to 20% of those claiming the cash were not actually living in these areas.

Those very minor changes alone are expected to deliver an extra $325 million to the government coffers over five years.



According to the ATO if you live in the following areas, you deserve $57 due to "uncongenial climatic conditions, isolation and cost of living"

  • Mackay
  • Airlie Beach
  • Townsville
  • Cairns
  • Hamilton Island
  • Hayman Island 

Some of the areas not considered isolated enough to receive the rebate:

  • Rockhampton
  • Gladstone
  • Moranbah
  • Clermont
  • Warwick
  • Toowoomba
  • Gympie
  • Casino
  • Dalby
  • Dysart