Backpacker tax: Farmers say all not lost

Farmers say all not lost on backpacker tax

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STANDOFF: The Government’s Working Holiday Maker Bills were rejected by the senate today.

STANDOFF: The Government’s Working Holiday Maker Bills were rejected by the senate today.

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Farmers say a deal can be found to end the uncertainty surrounding the backpacker tax when the bills return to the senate next week.

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FARMERS say despite the senate’s rejection of the Government’s Working Holiday Maker Bills today, a deal can be found to end the uncertainty when the bills return to the senate next week. 

National Farmers Federation chief executive officer Tony Mahar said the pressure was on Labor and the crossbench to end their standoff and work constructively with the government to end the uncertainty and frustration for backpackers, farmers and growers.

“An outcome on a backpacker tax rate has in our view been frustrated by Labor and Senator Lambie coming late to the table with a position,” Mr Mahar said.

“We implore them and the One Nation senators to now look to an outcome that can pass the parliament next week by working constructively with the government and in the interests of farmers, Australian workers and consumers to get a deal done.

“For the past 18 months the NFF has argued that any rate must be fair and reasonable, encourage overseas backpackers to work in the regions and comparable to that paid to Australian workers.

“We negotiated in good faith with the government for support for a fairer tax rate rather than the original 32.5 per cent proposed. 

“At 19pc, Australian wages are more than competitive with those on offer in both New Zealand and Canada.

“Parliamentary passage of the bills next week means we can get the message out that Australia is open for business and has its arms wide open to the backpacker community. Farmers and growers desperately need backpackers at what is the busiest time of the year for many. Only the parliament can provide this certainty.”

Mr Mahar said that the NFF Members’ Council had today passed an urgency motion calling on the parliament to reach a resolution over the backpacker tax before the parliament rises next week.

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