Tuesday, 27 June 2023

Labor’s attack on backpackers will hurt region’s growers

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said the Albanese Labor Government’s two-pronged attack on backpackers would be devastating for local growers and the local economy.

Starting 1 July, Labor will increase the cost of the Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa by $130 to $640, making it the highest fee visa of its kind in the world.

The Government is also considering cutting the WHM visa to one-year and removing any regional work requirements.

Mr Pitt said Hinkler growers relied on backpackers to work in essential industries and support businesses by spending their money locally.

“Local media reported today that Bundaberg is Queensland’s third most productive agriculture region, contributing $837 million Gross Value Production to the state’s record overall GDP of $23.44 billion.

“The decision to make the Working Holiday Maker visa so expensive will discourage backpackers from coming to Australia, which means fewer workers helping out in agriculture and hospitality jobs and fewer visitors supporting our tourism businesses,” he said.

“If Labor cut the backpacker visa to just one year it will severely impact our local economy as well as other regional economies around the country.

“Backpackers have made a significant contribution to the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay regions for decades and the Coalition supports our successful Working Holiday Maker program. The Prime Minister needs to stand up today and match our commitment.”

There are more than 137,000 WHM visa holders currently in Australia who are spending money on holidays and working in critical industries.

WHM visa holders make up to 80 percent of the harvest labour force in horticulture, while in other commodities they account for 5 percent to 15 percent of the junior, casual and seasonal workforce.

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