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Time for statesmanship to fix backpacker tax mess

10 November 2016

Next week’s parliamentary hiatus should be used by all politicians to turn politics into statesmanship and find a fix to the backpacker tax mess, the President of the National Farmers’ Federation, Brent Finlay said.

“The political antics this week have done nothing to instil confidence that the parliamentary process wants to fix the backpacker tax.

“Amongst the farming community, anger is replacing frustration. Our livelihood is not some football for the political establishment to kick around.

“I hope that out of the Canberra hotbed of intrigue and power plays, our politicians will find a way to break the backpacker tax impasse.

“Australian farmers efforts to feed the nation in support rural businesses, families and communities deserves more than a rabble response.

“We know that any outcome will be an imperfect one, but this is better than 32.5% which, despite those looking to play spoiler on this issue, is exactly what backpackers – the shrinking numbers of them that is – will pay from 1 January next year.”

Mr Finlay said that all farmers can play a vital role in “getting out the vote” next week in support of getting a fix to the mess.

“It’s time for farmers to get out the metaphorical cattle prod and use the weight of our numbers to force sanity to prevail in passing the backpacker tax legislation when Parliament resumes in a week’s time.

“Each and every farmer needs to get in touch with and in front of their local politicians and cross bench Senators to urge them to resolve this issue so that working holiday makers will come back to work on Australian farms after Christmas.

“The politicians need to be reminded what is at stake here. Working holiday makers make up a quarter of our national workforce – these are real people, real jobs, on real farms. If we can’t get a fairer deal for them, they’ll stop coming and it will be farmers who suffer as a result.

“A bumper crop not a rotten Christmas is not that much to ask for.”

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