SUBJECT/S: Backpacker tax, Murray Darling Basin Plan, APVMA relocation


JOEL FITZGIBBON, SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, FORESTRY AND RURAL AND REGIONAL AUSTRALIA: The relocation of the APVMA, backpacker tax and the Murray Darling Basin Plan are all problems of the Government’s own making and with one thing in common - Barnaby Joyce. Barnaby Joyce shows time and time again he is prepared to put his own political interests ahead of the interests of the Australian community and in particular, Australia’s farmers.

Now if Malcolm Turnbull is not prepared to man up, on behalf of himself, he should man up on behalf of the Australian community and in particular Australia’s farmers who are going to be so adversely affected, both by a 19 per cent backpacker tax and the relocation of the APVMA to Barnaby’s own electorate. Of course Barnaby Joyce’s decision to tear up the Murray Darling Basin Plan is also very bad for the long-term sustainable profitability of the agriculture sector. Barnaby Joyce is out of control, Malcolm Turnbull needs to muscle up and bring him back into line, if not for his sake, but for the sake of the community but in particular Australian farmers. 

JOURNALIST: Several people have come out, including Derryn Hinch this morning, saying they would support a 15 per cent tax, would Labor compromise on that?

FITZGIBBON: The Government has not been to us with any alternative to its 19 per cent backpacker tax and of course Finance Minister Mathias Cormann made it quite clear on national television yesterday that he is not prepared to negotiate any lower than 19 per cent. This is the Government’s tax and is a problem of their own making and we believe 10.5 - the equivalent of the New Zealand headline rate -  is the only way of restoring Australia’s international competitiveness in terms of backpackers.
I think 15 per cent will be a bad result for Australian farmers. Treasury themselves admitted that 19 was no better than 32.5. Why? Because it is the headline rate that matters. All backpackers do is look at the headline rate. They look at New Zealand at 10.5 and Australia at 19 or 15 and they decide to go to New Zealand as well. If the Government does come forward with an alternative proposal, it needs to demonstrate how that proposal restores our international competiveness. It has not been able to do so before now, but in any case, Mathias Cormann made it quite clear yesterday that the Government will not move on 19 per cent and that is very bad news for our farming community.

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