Byte Exclusive: Backpacker tax on hold for 6 months, forget what you’ve read elsewhereMay 3rd, 2016 | | industry
Alex de Waal CEO of Tourism Tropical NQ (pictured) announced this morning at the YHA Conference in Cairns, that the backpacker tax has been put on hold for 6 months. The Byte can announce that other and earlier media reports are incorrect and that there is no 32.5% tax on backpackers from July 1, 2016.
This comes off the back of advice from Warren Entsch, the Liberal MP (corrected) for the region. This is, of course, good news for the backpacker industry but leaves a high level of uncertainty for all.
Let’s hope the government continues to see sense and makes adjustments to their earlier proposals.
Otherwise it is clear that many tourism and agricultural businesses will be adversely affected should changes not be made. Backpacker numbers on Working Holiday Visas will slow, regional areas will struggle to have fruit and veg picked and we, the Australian people will be paying more for fruit and veg in the supermarkets with higher labour costs, or it’s left to rot due to lack of available labour to pick it.
The Byte sources also believe the Nationals will be using this tax as an election issue in rural areas. If you feel strongly about this issue, don’t sit back and leave it the government, contact your local MP and let them know how you feel.
There has been a very public campaign led by The Byte to relieve pressure on seasonal workforces due to the proposed tax hike. That sparked subsequent consultation with industry groups, including tourism and agriculture, to develop a proposal, across relevant government departments, that was submitted for cabinet consideration last month.
Farmers are already reporting significantly fewer applications for seasonal jobs this year due to the announced increase.
“Already we are starting to see the economic damage of the backpacker tax and it hasn’t even been passed into law yet”
“We have farmers asking – should we plant our crops this year?
“Where will our workers come from?
“This is going to be an economic disaster for the agriculture sector.
“We won’t be able to harvest our current crops let alone increase production to take advantage of new trade opportunities.”
The Byte, TTF, the NFF and other bodies will continue to fight the ‘backpacker tax’ until the government – whichever party that might be after the election – sees sense on the issue.
Victorian Nationals MP Andrew Broad is warning that the government’s handling of the tax is a litmus test for the government’s attitude towards agriculture and fulfilling economic ambitions underpinning newly signed trade deals.
Given the uncertainty backpackers are already voting with their feet, perhaps its time for tourism industry business owners and staff (of which there are 100,000s) to step up and show this government that the industry is sick of being trodden on and used as a cash cow for consecutive governments.
Make sure you are registered to vote, so far Morrison hasn’t got the message, have your say on July 2.
Written by Mike Barrow