Hort body tells government to listen to industry and scrap the backpacker tax before it’s too late

1st September 2016

“Scrap this policy, do some real economic modelling, come to the table with industry and make a workable solution before it is too late for many of our horticultural industries to harvest the crops that are already growing.” That’s according to the Voice of Horticulture, the industry’s leading voice and strong advocate behind lobbying the Federal Government to scrap the proposed backpacker tax rate policy of 32.5 per cent.

“The current ‘bad’ policy needs to be scrapped so we can revive confidence in the industry in terms of international backpackers returning to work to harvest our crops,” said Voice of Horticulture chair, Tania Chapman.

“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!” Ms Chapman stressed that the industry agreed every worker in Australia should pay tax – but it had to be fair and reasonable and internationally competitive.

“Since this issue evolved we have lobbied for a competitive tax rate to make us as attractive as Canada and New Zealand to working visa holders, these two countries are the alternatives for our backpacker workforce and given that backpackers make on average $15,000 during their stay in Australia, a tax rate of 32.5 per cent is a huge deterrent,” she added.

Ms Chapman said industry was now eagerly awaiting the results of the Federal Government’s Working Holiday Maker Visa Review with submissions closing this Thursday. Voice of Horticulture joined with industry bodies and made a submission that represents the concerns and interests of all growers in terms of slashing the policy.

“We are calling on all ministers in the Federal Government, including education, immigration, infrastructure and agriculture, and not forgetting treasury, to read the submissions and acknowledge that research into the issue now clearly shows how Australia’s economy as a whole would be hit badly if the tax was introduced,” Ms Chapman said.

“A Monash University study titled, Long term tourists or short term migrants, found that out of 335 Working Holiday Makers surveyed 60 per cent would not come to Australia if the tax was introduced.” Study co-ordinator and the Director, Graduate Tourism Program at Monash, Dr Jeff Jarvis, added that: “In addition just over one fifth of travellers would recommend to their friends to come to Australia on a Working Holiday Maker visa and 57 per cent would spend less time travelling around Australia. That means there would be a significant impact, in particular on regional tourism economies.”

In efforts to gain momentum and support towards removing the proposed backpacker tax, Voice of Horticulture recently embarked on a significant social media campaign which aims to not only reach growers across the country, but also the mainstream.

“Voice of Horticulture is being heard loud and clear throughout the country – with growers and backpacker workers getting on board by telling their story on You Tube and other forms of social media,” Ms Chapman explained.

“It is an issue that has united the industry into one voice as we lobby the Government to listen to our messages.” The Federal Government will announce the Review’s outcomes before January 1, 2017.

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