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NFF calls on Parliament to end ‘backpacker tax’ uncertainty

7 November 2016

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has today called on the Parliament to bring an end to ongoing uncertainty created by the ‘backpacker tax’ by supporting legislation for a fairer rate of tax when it comes on for debate this week.

NFF Chief Executive Officer Tony Mahar said with just three sitting weeks left this year an outcome is time critical.

“There are real people and real jobs at stake here particularly with summer crops ready for harvest. A failure to pass the legislation currently before the Senate before the end of the year would create further unnecessary uncertainty for backpackers and agricultural businesses,” Mr Mahar said.

“Backpacker workers make up more than a quarter of the national agricultural workforce. In some areas of Australia, that figure is closer to 80 per cent. As uncertainty over this tax lingers, inquiries about farm work are steadily dropping away. This affects our farmers more than any other sector of the economy – and that’s not good enough.

“Any stalling now for political gain only hurts and hinders our farmers, producers and the rural communities that benefit from a vibrant ag sector.”

Mr Mahar said that the NFF has consistently put forward a clear position on what we consider to be a fair rate of tax.

“The NFF has lobbied hard for an equitable and fair rate of tax. While the Coalition’s compromise package of measures to fix the ‘backpacker tax’ is not perfect, it is a far sight better than the original proposal of 32.5 percent which will be the default tax rate from 1 January 2017 if the legislation is not passed.

“We now call on the Parliament to get behind a legislative fix to the ‘backpacker tax’ mess – and deliver certainty, once and for all, to the Australian agriculture sector.

“The ag sector needs the political process to urgently deliver an outcome to rebuild business confidence in rural and regional Australia. Uncertainty is damaging, now and into the future.”

The Senate Economics Legislation Committee will table a further report on the issue on Wednesday, after a third inquiry this year into the destructive measure since industry first raised the alarm in 2015.

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