Letter to the youth/backpacker industry: time to take action

July 15th, 2019 | | backpacker

On Monday 8th of July, seven industry members including myself met with our local MP for Leichardt (Cairns region), Warren Entsch to raise our concerns regarding:

  • Decline in Youth visitation
  • WHM costs/tax/super
  • Exploitation of WHMs by several „Working” (Farm work) accommodation providers

Our message was clear – Australia is no longer a competitive WHM destination due to the WHM Visa policies, the overall experience that is delivered as a result of these policies and the roll on effect it is having on Tourism.

Warren has agreed to lodge an immediate grievance in Parliament supported by a 20 min speech addressing these issues and demand the following policy changes:

  • Reduction of application fees
  • Rollback of the „backpacker tax”
  • Allow WHMs access to their Superannuation before leaving the country
  • Enquiry into the exploitation of WHMs at working hostels and implementation of regulations to ensure WHMs are safe & treated fairly

To achieve these changes we must approach this on a National/Federal Level with the same messaging. I am imploring the broader Australian Youth/BP/WHM Industry’s support on this matter and to take the following action immediately:

  • Circulate this messaging to your network
  • Collate supporting evidence of the downturn from your local industry members with statistical evidence (e.g. sales expressed in percentage terms YOY from FY 2017 (2017 being 100%)
  • Similar evidence of this from other businesses relying on BP/WHM trade such as cafe’s, bars etc which would also carry weight and demonstrate the flow on or multiplier effect of BP/WHM spend.
  • Gain letters of support of other local entities including RTO’s and local Councils.
  • Engage your local (federal) MP to act on these issues.
  • Please CC me into any correspondence so I can advise Warren Entsch of progress.

Time is of the essence as the Hon Warren Entsch will be making a speech in parliament addressing our plight in 2 – 3 weeks.  There will be the opportunity for industry leaders to go Canberra attend the speech and lobby politicians and decision makers.

Please find attached draft Submission. I encourage your feedback.

Please forward this correspondence to your network and follow up with phone calls to prompt timely (urgent) response.

For further information regarding these matters, please do not hesitate to contact myself:

Leah Bursztynowicz


P: 0456 316 304


Phil Warring – Adventure Cairns President


P: 0418 159 828

4 Responses

  1. Pete Williams says:

    Accessing their superannuation before leaving the country is a great idea, however the tax deductions on DASP need changing. Currently an immediate 15% tax is applied to employees super contributions when it is remitted to their Super fund. Further, another 65% is withheld when WHM apply for their superannuation. It just seems strange that the major employer groups of WHM have not raised this concern before as it is a huge burden on their cost of business. EFFECTIVELY 70% OF AN EMPLOYERS CONTRIBUTION FOR THEIR EMPLOYEES IS COLLECTED BY THE ATO.

    As an example, excluding fees & costs (which would only further reduce their super amount) WHM who receive $300 a month in Superannuation Guarantee payments from their employer only stand to receive $89.25 of this amount when departing Australia

  2. I did a ‘survey’ (spoke to each one in turn) with the backpackers we had here last week asking them about this..

    They paid their visa fees in pounds, euros and US dollars and did not think that the fees were expensive.

    They all felt that tax at 15% was totally fair and that they should contirubute to the use of the roads, parks and beaches.

    The original suggestion of allowing them to get their super back after doing their 88 days seemed a bit strange as they were shortly returning to Australia or staying on.. My interviewees thought that Super was not something they could complain about as it was like a ‘gift’ from their employer and they had not had to pay for it – so a 35% bonus eventually was just fine.

    I totally agree that the working holstels need regulation with their charges and the way they organise their jobs – perhaps a registration system like for the Labour Hire people would make them more accountable.

    BYTAP has links to Government about these matters could this petition be duplicating or confusing the issue?

    Could the lack of visitation to Cairns be something to do with the fact that the Greens and associated types of people have told the world that the reef is dead and so not worth visiting. They have done untold harm to Australia in general and NW Queensland in particular. See Brett Claxton’s excellent letter in a previous issue of the BYTE.

  3. Helen says:

    i am wondering. If the government reduces all what is asked of them, will RMAs need to reduce their fees for visas and services?

  4. John George says:

    Can someone please explain to me about this sub category of backpacker hostels referred to as working hostels. What are they, what do they do, what exploitation are they seen to get up to and what further regulation may be, seen as a benefit that will cause the youth tourism sector, which you say is in decline, grow again? What charges need regulation, and if so, does that mean that the government will be in charge of what prices must be set for accommodation? Do they do this in Russia or China? Maybe the government should run government accommodation for backpackers? What about what a share house operator may charge? Sometimes I think there must be too much sun up there in Queensland.