Statement on backpacker tax

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Media statement from Keith Pitt MP provided to the NewsMail on Friday, November 11, 2016 in relation to questions about the backpacker tax: 

Why has the backpacker tax been removed from the Senate schedule this week?

“The Senate cross benchers lack of understanding of this issue will cost farmers in regional Australia.

“The cross bench need to get out and talk to some people in regional Australia. Nineteen cents is an agreed position and it’s supported by the industry.”

When is it expected that it will be debated?

“When the Australian Labor Party starts seeing sense and stops playing political games with growers businesses and regional economies.

“Right now they are preventing Australian farmers from delivering their produce to market.

“The idea that they can have their produce left in the paddock because of the cross bench chaos, in conjunction with the Labor party, is just abhorrent to me.”

I understand Hinkler region farmers are very worried that Labor’s push for a 10.5% tax could cause the Coalition’s 19% proposal to fail. Will you be fighting to make sure the 19% compromise, that the industry is happy with, goes through?

“I will continue to fight to ensure that growers have a labour force to be able to get their crops off, and spoke about this issue in Parliament this week. Shadow Minister for Agriculture Joel Fitzgibbon doesn’t care about regional businesses. We have Free Trade Agreements which are benefitting our region, but Mr Fitzgibbon is more interested in cheap political gain.

“The Senate Inquiry, prompted by Labor, found that working holiday maker reform package should be passed.

“The committee is confident that the reform package will both ensure that WHMs are paying a fair share of tax, while ensuring Australia remains a destination of choice for WHMs.”

I’ve also been told that a reversion to the 32.5% tax could cost the government votes – that farmers and tourism operators ‘won’t forget’ and they feel their industry, and the tourism industry, is being put at risk for political gain. Is this on your mind as you debate this issue?

“The 32.5 percent tax rate applying to non-residents had been the law since it was increased from 29% by the previous Labor Government as part of the 2012-13 Budget.

“I understand that growers trying to run their business in Australia, and in particular in regional areas, are incredibly fed-up.

“They need certainty at a time when it’s vital to get people on the ground, yet the political game playing by Labor is causing them unnecessary stress.

“The Labor party and the Senate cross bench need to get out of the way of Australian industry, get out of the way of producers. Let them get on with what they are good at.  Pass this legislation.”

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