Byte Exclusive: Backpacker tax on hold for 6 months, forget what you’ve read elsewhere

May 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

9 Responses

  1. Ken says:

    This will be good news if true. But, Entsch is a Liberal Party MP not a Nat!

  2. We employee a number of back packers each year and depend on them to run our farm stay accommodation In Coonabarabran.

  3. We employee a number of back packers each year and depend on them to run our farm stay accommodation In Coonabarabran. It is very difficult/ impossible to find regional workers who live in the district.

  4. Hi Ken (O’Dowd, Federal M.P,)
    Not enough, Too little too late (6 months in limbo is utterly ridiculous) and only perpetuating uncertainty in 2 of the major 4 industries (Tourism and Agriculture).
    I actually did not believe it to be possible for elected members of the LNP, Liberals or Nationals to be this incredibly stupid.

    I must also say I have never seen Labour in all their bungling efforts do anything as stupid as this.
    Your lot in Canberra have done a great deal of damage and still don’t seem to have gotten the message yet!

    If this is not thoroughly trashed by the next election you are going to lose an awful lot of votes here and I will be adding my voice as loudly as possible to that effect as well.

  5. Chris Harrison says:

    Last night’s Budget provided no relief in relation to the backpacker tax, with the Treasurer noting that the issue remained ‘live’ and under consideration.

    When asked about the tax during his post-Budget National Press Club address, the Treasurer remarked that the issue was complex, that the joint ag/tourism proposal was ‘not good policy’ and was ‘not under consideration’, and confirmed that the issue was still live.

    Reports from other media today confirm additional time is required:

    Confirmation has been sought from Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce as to whether this is the Government’s position and the answer is no – the Government’s position is what the Treasurer said at today’s National Press Club speech.

    Key media themes/comments:
    . We need certainty and we need it now (AGREED)
    · We haven’t had confirmation that the Government’s position has changed
    · The longer this goes on, the more damage will be done (AGREED)
    · We encourage the Government to bring an end to the uncertainty once and for all ASAP

  6. Thommo says:

    It’s critical that both governments recognise that a short term revenue gain (32.5%) will be devastating to the industry in the mid and long term. We need to attract WHV and international travellers to our country – Australian Visa applications aren’t cheap compared to other competing destinations so this tax uncertainty becomes a further and greater barrier to inbound youth tourism.

  7. […] been reported by various news outlets that the backpacker tax will be put on hold for six months. The Byte reported that Alex de Waal CEO of Tourism Tropical NQ announced at a recent YHA Conference in Cairns, that […]

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