About 25% of our agricultural workforce are backpackers. Crops will rot in the ground or on the vine if farmers can’t access enough workers for harvest.
This temporary workforce is under threat with the introduction of a 32.5% tax on every dollar earnt in Australia as of July 1st – though the government will delay its introduction in an attempt to remove it as an election issue.
We are competing globally for backpacker workers. Canada and New Zealand only tax backpackers 15%, so these countries will have a win at our expense. A recent survey of backpackers showed half were planning to leave Australia due to the new tax. We will lose economically as well with less backpackers, given the dollar spend per backpacker is 74% more than other visitors. Thousands of small businesses that are frequented by backpackers will take a serious hit.
Horticulture is worth about $10 billion to our economy and is projected to grow to $30 billion by 2030. That growth will be stifled if the agricultural sector doesn’t have access to the flexible labour that backpackers provide.
This tax change is a threat to our agricultural and tourism sectors. Urgent decisive action is needed by the Turnbull government - we can’t afford to have the issue just kicked down the road by a few months. Farmers need a level of workforce certainty as they plan for the coming year, as do backpackers when weighing options about which country to visit and work.
Rod McGarvie, Senate Candidate Family First