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No more politics: fix the backpacker tax

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) will today file its submission to the Senate inquiry into the ‘backpacker tax’ bills, reinforcing its urgent call for all Members of Parliament to support a resolution to the counterproductive and damaging measure.

Announced in the 2015 Federal Budget, the ‘backpacker tax’ will tax all working holiday makers at 32.5 per cent unless a fairer rate is supported by the Parliament. Legislation passed through the House of Representatives last week would implement a lower, 19 per cent, tax rate as well as other measures including an increase in the eligible age of working holiday makers to 35.

NFF Chief Executive Tony Mahar, said while the overall package before the Senate was not perfect, it was a significant win that would deliver an extra $2000 to the average backpacker’s pocket.

“At the rate of 19 per cent, Australian wages are competitive with New Zealand and Canada and we can start to reconnect with working holiday makers, to once again promote rural and regional Australia as a worthwhile experience,” Mr Mahar said.

“Farmers can’t delay the seasons and planting decisions are being made now. It is unfair to thousands of Australian farmers to put their annual crop at risk.”

Mr Mahar said last week’s disappointing political display, including the Australian Labor Party undermining the compromise package by attacking the NFF was saddening to say the least.

“As a major political party, it is incumbent on Labor to make its position clear,” he said.

“Until now, the only position Labor has ever taken on the backpacker tax was to support a tax rate of 32.5 per cent.

“This tax, and the long delay in finding an alternative way forward, has inflicted unnecessary damage on the agriculture sector and our competitiveness in global markets.

“This can’t continue. We call on the Parliament to support Australian farmers by ensuring that legislation to restore certainty and fairness to the farm community is passed without any further delay.”
 

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