Hort Industry calls for clarity on proposed backpacker tax changes

15th August 2016

After what has been a period of uncertainty in Australia’s political landscape, the Voice of Horticulture is pleased to see that both houses of the Australian Government are now ratified. In saying that, Voice of Horticulture Chair, Tania Chapman welcomes both the Turnbull and Shadow Ministry and looks forward to a productive four years.

“The Voice of Horticulture is particularly pleased to see that the Deputy Prime Minister/Leader of the Nationals, Barnaby Joyce has remained as the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources,” Ms Chapman said.

“Also that Senator Anne Ruston remains the Assistant Minister for Agriculture and will work alongside Minister Joyce focussing on such key portfolios as horticulture.” The Voice of Horticulture, which is a member-based organisation that represents horticultural growers and businesses across fruit, nuts, vegetables, mushrooms, turf, nursery, plants and cut flowers, is currently in the planning stages of developing a strategic plan for the whole of industry. This will be a plan that shows the how, what and who will drive the doubling of horticulture production and the 10-fold increase of horticulture exports.

Ms Chapman stressed that: “It won’t be long before horticulture could overtake significant crops such as grains which have an annual gross value of production of around $9-13 billion.”

“Horticulture is the fastest growing agriculture sector in Australia and is paramount to the sustainability of rural and regional Australia, therefore, having Senator Ruston continue in her role is important as we focus on capitalising on our Free Trade Agreements with important markets such as Japan, Korea, China as well as the ongoing discussions with India and Indonesia.

“We also look forward to continuing to work with Steve Ciobo in his ever important role as Trade Minister.”

In addressing other portfolios in the Federal Government, Ms Chapman stressed there “… were so many that were vital to the expansion of horticulture, and it was pleasing to see Ministers Michaelia Cash in Employment, Peter Dutton in Immigration and Border Protection and Fiona Nash with key responsibilities in Rural Development.

“There are many new faces across our new Federal Government and the Voice of Horticulture looks forward to engaging with them to ensure they gain a complete understanding of the whole of horticulture and the value of these commodities to the Australian economy.”

Prior to the election, a big ticket item on the Voice of Horticulture’s agenda was stopping the implementation of the proposed 32.5 per cent income tax on backpackers for every dollar they earnt whilst working in Australia.

Ms Chapman said industry welcomed the postponement of the backpacker tax by the Federal Government who announced, prior to the election, a “cross –departmental” review of the controversial tax, but stressed that the horticultural industry faced dire consequences if this “bad policy” found its way back. At this point there are still many backpackers that believe the tax is in place at the moment, we need strong communication out there that it is not- many industries are struggling to find workers to harvest their crops because of this misconception.

“Backpackers contribute more than $3.5 billion to the economy each year and around 40,000 find employment on Australian farms. We need more of them, not less to harvest our crops, and ensure our quality produce reach the market and thus the consumer whilst in premium condition” she added.

Media contacts

Tania Chapman
Chair, Voice of Horticulture
0428 291 717

John Dollisson
Director, Voice of Horticulture
0413 111 123

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