Prolonging the agony: backpacker tax delayed
IN A new chapter of the backpacker tax saga, the Australian Government has moved to delay the introduction of the tax hike for six more months.
Assistant Treasurer Kelly O'Dwyer announced yesterday that the government would review working holiday visas, holding off on any changes to the current system until January 2017.
If it goes ahead, the 32.5% tax on holiday workers would raise $540m over the next three years.
"The fact it's delayed is a positive, but increasing he backpacker tax is a negative for all farmers," Snapfresh Australia's Sara Abdy said at her Mahogany Creek property yesterday.
The farm she runs with husband Rhys and parents Sue and Eddy Zaina is one of the region's largest, with more than 1200 acres of sugarcane, tomatoes, snow peas and other crops.
Backpackers are part of a vital mix of foreign and local workers employed by the family business.
"Growing up in this industry, I know how difficult it is, and I've seen the difficulties my parents have been through," Mrs Abdy said.
"I'm just thinking about the farmers who are further inland, and how there will be absolutely no incentive (to work there) - and those people won't be able to find workers. Our farming community will grow even smaller, and that's really sad.
"We're a coastal town and it's only becoming harder and harder, with new diseases, the climate change that's happening and the rising cost of production.
We need to support farmers more than anything, because it is a dwindling trade.
The delay also presents a challenge for many farmers who are trying to plan for upcoming seasons.
"We always prepare for a bad season," she said, "but if we don't have these guys...they make everything work. Without them, we can't pack."
Bundaberg MP and Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Leanne Donaldson moved a motion to Queensland Parliament last week calling on the Federal Government to scrap the tax before it could do any more harm, and said it had "missed (its) chance".
"The motion I proposed was supported without dissent," Ms Donaldson said.
"Treasurer Morrison had a chance to dump the tax in the Budget and chose not to.
"Today the Coalition had another opportunity to admit the backpacker tax was bad for our producers, tourism operators and rural economies and they fudged it.
"This huge tax hike for working holiday visa holders, which was to start from July 1, has already caused severe disruption for farmers who rely on backpackers to harvest their produce."
"We know you can't create jobs and growth in tourism by taxing tourists," Tourism Minister Kate Jones said.
"We will not be fooled - MrTurnbull wants to kick this can down the road to get it off the agenda during the federal campaign."