Bipartisan solution NEEDED on backpacker tax to save farms

21 November 2016

Voice of Horticulture is calling on the Federal Government to put an end to the backpacker tax debate and find a resolution before parliament finishes for the year. So far this week in the House no “backpacker” tax is scheduled for debate.

The horticulture industry’s peak body stressed that there would be serious consequences to farms if no resolution was made and the agriculture sector and backpackers were left with a 32.5 per cent tax from January 2017.

“The issue is beyond being serious, we are losing backpacker numbers by the day as they turn to other countries for a more viable working holiday.” said Voice of Horticulture Chair, Tania Chapman.

“All across Australia fruit will be left to rot on trees or vines and vegetables abandoned in paddocks because industry cannot find a workforce to pick their produce".

“At the end of the day the whole issue is about real jobs, and Australian farmers who just need to be able to get on with the job knowing they have access to a workforce they desperately need.”

Voice of Horticulture has been vocal about the controversial backpacker tax since the debate began and has suggest a workable 15 per cent, which is consistent with seasonal workers and significantly less than the 32.5 per cent tax.  

“But most importantly,” Ms Chapman said, “a realistic solution before parliament rises for the year”.

“It goes without saying, that Australia must have an internationally competitive tax rate that is attractive to backpackers coming from other destinations; such as Canada and New Zealand, to work and holiday.”

With Labour, the Greens and the Independents now all coming into the debate Voice of Horticulture fears time is running out for a decision to be made.

“Growers are getting tired of politics threatening the horticulture industry, an industry that has become the fastest growing one in Australia” Ms Chapman stressed.

 “We also must remember that 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 that won’t happen with a tax of 32.5 per cent.”

Media contacts

Tania Chapman
Chair, Voice of Horticulture
0428 291 717

John Dollisson
Director, Voice of Horticulture
0413 111 123

Follow news about Voice of Horticulture on Twitter via @VoiceofHort