BACKPACKER TAX CONFUSION FUELS GROWER PAIN

It has been more than two years since the Abbott-Turnbull Government announced their ill-conceived backpacker tax.

Barnaby Joyce defended the tax at the time saying it removed a “strategic advantage” for backpackers.

"I think the vast majority come here because we still have a great wage rate,” he said.

"Australians have to work a full year to get the tax-free threshold. It does seem a little bit incongruous that someone can work three months, four months, five months and get the tax-free threshold," he added.

During the heat of the 2016 election campaign, the Turnbull Government changed their tune, saying they would review the new tax, implying it would be axed or reduced.

But the Government also continued to use the projected $500 million of revenue from the tax to fund other programs. It’s been walking both sides of the street.

Now we have various ministers making different promises about the tax’s future.

Barnaby Joyce says farmers will know what’s happening in the next month or so.

Yet speaking in Hobart yesterday, Senator Anne Ruston said it was her understanding a decision on the tax would be made in matter of days.

While Scott Morrison says: "If there are changes to be made, it is my view as Treasurer they will be made in a way that does not disadvantage the budget."

In other words, the Treasurer is demanding that the $500 million in revenue still booked from the tax must be protected.
He doesn’t seem to understand that backpackers who don’t come here don’t pay any income tax at all.

Labor offered five months ago to give bipartisan support to any Government backflip which allowed Australia to remain internationally competitive in the backpacker labour market.

As each day passes the Government’s dithering further fuels the pain of growers who face the frightening prospect of having no workers to harvest their valuable crops.


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