The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has welcomed the commencement of the long awaited ‘backpacker tax’ review, but have cautioned that a quick resolution ruling out the measure is what the agriculture industry expects.
Promised by the Turnbull Government in May, the review will look into the destructive tax on working holiday makers as well as broader agricultural workforce issues facing Australian farmers and rural communities.
NFF President, Brent Finlay, said after what had been a turbulent time for industry, he was pleased the review was finally underway.
“The damage this tax will do is significant to agriculture, to farm businesses and families and the working holiday makers they rely upon. At least steps forward can now be taken to find a solution,” Mr Finlay said.
Announcing the review yesterday, Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said Assistant Minister Luke Hartsuyker, who has responsibility for agricultural workforce matters, will lead the review.
“This review is essential to ensuring the government’s policy settings continue to meet growing demand for flexible labour, particularly in rural and regional Australia
“The government recognises that the 200,000 plus working holiday makers who come here each year are a vital source of labour across the nation, which is why we have deferred for six months implementation of the so-called backpacker tax, pending the outcome of this review.
“To help fully capture the views of both agriculture and tourism sectors, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu have been commissioned to lead the public engagement process," Mr Joyce said.
The ‘backpacker tax’ was scheduled to be implemented from 1 July this year but was delayed pending a further review. The NFF has lobbied strongly on the issue, which would tax working holiday makers at a rate of at a rate of 32.5 per cent on all income, including an online petition which attracted around 50,000 signatures.
“The review timeframe is very short with only three weeks to put in submissions and an outcome to be ‘announced’ at some time prior to 1 January,” Mr Finlay said.
“NFF will actively participate in the review, and will be seeking to meet with the consultants leading the review as soon as possible, to ensure they understand how important this issue is for Australian agriculture.
“We continue to urge the Government to abandon this ill-conceived measure which will ultimately damage the economy in the long-term," Mr Finlay concluded.