Farmers from across the country have called on all sides of politics to put an end the uncertainty surrounding the ‘Backpacker Tax’ by expediting the passage of the Bill which will see a new, fairer tax rate of 19 per cent for working holiday makers.
The Bill, expected to be introduced to Parliament today, is the culmination of months of debate surrounding what has been a controversial measure and strong lobbying from the agriculture industry as to the impact a higher tax rate would have on the agricultural workforce.
First flagged in the 2015 Federal Budget, the measure was originally set to tax working holiday makers at 32.5 per cent. Following an outcry from agricultural and tourism businesses around the country, the Government announced a compromise of 19 per cent in the last week of September.
National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President, Brent Finlay, said Australian agriculture was now anxiously awaiting a clear end to the uncertainty which had caused significant distress for farmers across all Australian states and territories.
“The agriculture and tourism sectors worked long and hard to achieve support for a 19 per cent tax rate as a fair and reasonable compromise to fix this mess,” Mr Finlay said.
“The impact of this ill-conceived measure has been felt across the sector and, for many farmers, the resolution already comes too late to avoid losses.
“For every day this issue remains unresolved, fewer working holiday makers choose to live and work in rural Australia.
“We need this tax put to bed once and for all, so we can welcome back the working holiday maker community and get on with producing great Australian food and fibre.”
Mr Finlay said while he acknowledged there were some concerns over changes to working holiday makers’ superannuation and the Passenger Movement Charge, it was crucial that the measures announced by Government to fix the Backpacker Tax were adopted.
“We simply say to the Parliament: support this fix. Support our farmers and our working holiday makers who, on average, will each be better off by around $2000.
“The time for playing politics is over. The legislation must pass this week so that farmers can get their crops in the ground and know they will not be left without a workforce at harvest time.”