Horticulture’s peak body pleads for voice of reason 

28th November 2016

The Federal Government must be applauded for attempting to come to a comprise on the backpacker tax in the wake of what could be the biggest devastation horticulture growers will face if their crops are not harvested or picked.

That’s according to the Voice of Horticulture who has been vocal about the controversial backpacker tax since the debate began and remained steadfast in its suggestion that a workable 15 per cent is consistent with seasonal workers and significantly less than the 32.5 per cent tax.

“I implore those opponents to this tax to step back and look at what is happening across the nation in rural regions.” Chair of Voice of Horticulture, Tania Chapman said.

“Horticulture growers will hold those people and bodies, who know nothing about the intricate issues facing horticulture and who have put their own opinions and priorities in the spotlight, responsible for the devastation they will be facing if there is no change to the 32.5% backpacker tax.”

“We should never have got to this place of uncertainty, it is imperative that policy makers listen to the real people affected by issues such as this.”

“There are those bodies, such as the Voice of Horticulture, who must be heard; as we are living and breathing this issue personally. We are all growers or leaders in the industry.”

Another argument now entering the arena is that New Zealanders have a lower tax break for back packers at 10.5 per cent. Currently many backpackers are turning their back on Australia and heading to our neighbour over the Tasman Sea.

Ms Chapman said that “If you look at the wage rate in New Zealand, compared to Australia, a 15 per cent tax rate in Australia creates a very level playing field re wages.”

As the Federal Government goes into its last week of sitting before the Christmas break, Voice of Horticulture is hopeful the backpacker tax is settled before the break.

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

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

“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 and/or pick our crops. That won’t happen with a tax of 32.5 per cent, but at least we are giving them a viable alternative at 15 per cent.”

The Voice of Horticulture is a member based organization that represents horticultural growers and business across fruit, nuts, vegetables, mushrooms, turf, nursery plants and cut flowers.

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