TIME is running out for farmers wanting to convince the Federal Government to abandon its destructive backpacker tax.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has announced a review of the Federal Government’s proposed 32.5 per cent tax on working holiday makers, which is due to come into effect on January 1.
“It’s great to see the Federal Government taking notice of the people who will be affected by this toxic tax – our farmers and other small rural business,” VFF Horticulture Vice President Emma Germano said. “But we’ve only got until September 2 to lodge submissions to this review of the proposed backpacker tax.
“Backpackers are a major source of labour for farmers across the nation. And this tax threatens to drive them away, to choose working holidays in other nations.
“Our farmers know the backpacker tax is a serious threat to their ability to recruit harvest labour, so we’re glad to see Minister Joyce has acknowledged it’s a problem, which is a positive step.
“But we’ve been fighting this tax for more than a year, in which time we came up with solutions that the Government rejected. So it’s frustrating that we now have less than a month to come back and tell them what we’ve already said.”
The Federal Government announced it intends to make a final decision on the backpacker tax some time before it’s due to start in January.
Ms Germano said the review process should have started earlier to give the community and Government more time to make an informed decision on the future of the backpacker tax.
“Instead of starting a new review process, the Government should have provided some kind of feedback on our submission to the last review of the tax (in April this year),” Ms Germano said.
“The backpacker tax is a threat to two of our biggest industries – agriculture and tourism – and it isn’t going to go away until it’s dealt with properly.”
“Working holiday makers bring in about $3.5 billion to the Australian economy every year, and we risk losing that revenue if the backpacker tax goes ahead.
Want to have your say directly? The Federal Government is accepting quick online submissions. Click here to have your say!
The VFF and its partner organisation the National Farmers Federation will lodge a submission opposing the backpacker tax. Ms Germano said the VFF was calling on farmers who will be affected by the tax to tell their stories as part of the review process.
“We’re looking for farmers who rely on backpacker labour to talk to us about how the backpacker tax will affect them. We need to put a human face on the backpacker tax” she said.
Any farmers with a story to tell on the backpacker tax can email the VFF at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 882 833.