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Statement by the President, Fiona Simson: Coalition of the willing delivers backpacker tax outcome

2 December 2016

On behalf of the Members of the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) and the broader farm sector, I welcome the passage of the backpacker tax bills by the Parliament yesterday evening.

Despite 18 months of tortuous debate, discussion and deliberation, this has been a victory for common sense.

The process did not bring out the best in our political system but I am relieved that an outcome was reached. The NFF advocated long and hard for a fair and competitive tax rate and we held firm.

I thank the Government, the Greens, Senator Leyonhjelm, the NXT Senate team and the One Nation Senators for their contribution and support for the package of measures that got the deal done.

I want to particularly acknowledge and express my appreciation to the NFF Member organisations and other agriculture and horticultural bodies that worked tirelessly and stood united behind the NFF’s eighteen month advocacy campaign. This was unprecedented and a strong demonstration of the importance of a united and coordinated farm sector and what can be achieved when farmers unite. It is a clear sign that cooperation and commitment to a common goal is alive and well within the farm sector.

The package of measures that delivered the deal provide good outcomes which make the new arrangements more workable for the sector. These measure include:-

  • A 15% tax on all working holiday makers (WHM) with no tax free threshold
  • A 65% tax on early departure withdrawal of superannuation for backpackers
  • The register of WHM employers will no longer be made public; and
  • A new program will be established to allow dole recipients to undertake farm work without affecting their first $5000 income

I also welcome the one off injection of $100 million for Landcare. The NFF is one of the original founding members of the Landcare movement and any investment in sustainable agriculture benefits the farmers and the land we care for.

As certainty returns to the farm sector and farmers and growers attempt to attract backpackers for this seasons’ harvest, there are lessons for all involved in this exercise of public policy making.

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