AUSVEG has applauded Senator Jacqui Lambie’s stand on the backpacker tax, following her recent calls for the government to listen to industry and state government leaders about the potential implications of proposed changes.
The Senator’s calls come during an interdepartmental review of the Australian Government’s plan to remove the tax-free threshold on backpackers’ earnings and tax them at a rate of 32.5 per cent.
The review has been undertaken in response to widespread concern about the damage that the proposal could inflict on the Australian horticulture industry, which relies on backpackers to harvest crops.
AUSVEG CEO Simon Bolles said the organisation remains concerned about the ramifications of the tax.
“We support the Senator’s concerns about the damaging effect of this tax, and we call on the Government to listen to industry so that a reasonable solution can be agreed to [that] addresses industry’s concerns and does not risk the livelihoods of Australia’s hardworking growers,” he said.
“As the industry comes to its busiest period, many growers are concerned that the reputational damage of the proposed backpacker tax has already affected their ability to source labour to harvest crops.
“Backpackers who come to Australia are vital to ensure that [farmers] can keep feeding our nation. This means that policies which could deter workers from visiting [the country], such as the proposed backpacker tax, threaten the productivity of our industry and its ability to satisfy our growing export markets, as well as the health of everyday Australians.”