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Labor abandons farm sector on backpacker tax

11 October 2016

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has called out the Australian Labor Party on its decision to walk away from Australian farmers by refusing to support a compromise on the destructive ‘backpacker tax’.

With the Bill cleared today for introduction into Federal Parliament, Labor has again failed to reveal its position on the tax, instead preferring to delay any relief for the farm sector and establish yet another review.

Announced in the 2015 Federal Budget, the measure will tax all working holiday makers at 32.5 per cent unless a fairer tax rate is supported by the Parliament. After months of lobbying from the agriculture and tourism sectors, the Government finally announced a compromise of 19 per cent in the last week of September.

NFF President, Brent Finlay, said the agriculture sector was outraged at the decision to unreasonably prolong uncertainty and distress currently felt by farmers across Australia.

“As we have said time and time again, the ‘backpacker tax’ threatens to divert away more than a quarter of the agricultural workforce. It needs to be fixed, and it needs to be fixed now,” Mr Finlay said.

“Our submission to the Working Holiday Maker review, which Labor has, comprehensively outlines how the backpacker tax will damage the agriculture sector and how it affects our competitiveness in global markets.

“Farmers can’t wait until the end of the year, or even next year, for a resolution of the issue. Every day of delay means fewer working holiday makers in rural Australia and fewer crops in the ground.

“After refusing to declare its hand on the backpacker tax all year, Labor decides to intervene at the eleventh hour to block a solution that would see an extra $2000 in every backpacker’s pocket.

“This is unacceptable and we call on Labor to respect all the decent hard working Australian farmers who feed and clothe us every day by passing the ‘backpacker tax’ bills in the Parliament.

“There is no justification for any further delay. The legislation must pass this week, so that farmers can get their crops in the ground and know they will not be left without a workforce at harvest time.”

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