WHY? German backpackers Julian Ensslin and Eva Richter say they don’t understand the need for the changes.
WHY? German backpackers Julian Ensslin and Eva Richter say they don’t understand the need for the changes. Dane Lillingstone

Possible scrap for backpacker tax

AFTER months of speculation and backlash, the Federal Government’s backpacker tax looks to have finally been shelved.

While there is no final decision at this time, Small Business Minister and Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer announced on Tuesday the tax would be delayed until at least January 1 with a review to take place.

The decision has been met with praise on the Granite Belt but the jury is still out on what should happen next.

Jason Mattiazzi, farm manager for Ausfarm Fresh, said they should just leave the tax system alone.

“It’s good that they’ve turfed it for now. I think they should just leave it the same. I don’t mind how it is at the moment at all,” he said.

“We rely on backpackers to pick our fruit and to do any type of work. Especially in Stanthorpe, it’s hard to get a workforce. When you rely on these people, if they’re not going to come in due to the tax then everyone in the agricultural sector will be up s*** creek.

“This year’s probably been the best group of backpackers we’ve had.”

Apple Shed supervisor Michael Patti said if the tax came in at its current rate, it would decimate their workforce.

“I think it would be a disaster,” he said.

“If we’ve got locals that want to work here, they’ve got priority but you’ve got to fill the numbers somewhere if you can’t get them. We don’t get locals applying for jobs. Some of them are just not prepared to do it.”

Sue Frances, from BEST Employment, said the delay was a step in the right direction.

“Having it deferred for review is a good decision,” she said.

“It’s very destabilising for people who are watching this. At least now they’ve got a chance to see more sense.”

Wally Sweet, from Sweet’s Strawberry Runners, said a compromise was needed.

“I think if they push it through to the 32.5% then it’s going to have an effect on all of the industries that rely on backpackers,” he said.

“My opinion is that they could streamline it and bring it back to something under 20%, where they can put them all on the same playing field. At present the tax is all over the place.”

The National Farmers Federation has been in discussions with the Government to bring the tax rate down to 19% but so far they have been unsuccessful.

Following the announcement, the NFF was joined by Growcom and the Queensland Farmers’ Federation in saying the decision was still not good enough.

“This announcement will not provide the certainly agricultural and tourism operators have been calling for and is out of touch with the needs of our industries and regional communities,” a QFF spokesperson said.

Stanthorpe Border Post


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