SUBJECT/S: Backpacker tax, TPP
10 NOVEMBER 2016
JOEL FITZGIBBON, SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, FORESTRY AND RURAL AND REGIONAL AUSTRALIA: I am here to report the Government has not listed the backpacker tax for debate or vote in the Senate today. You will recall that a fortnight ago when we were here we couldn’t have this bill go to Senate Committee for scrutiny because it was so urgent the bill had to passed by the Parliament straight away to provide certainty to farmers. But now, again today, there is no debate in the Senate so the uncertainty for our farmers continues. In fact, it has been exacerbated by the actions of this Government. Meanwhile, Barnaby Joyce keeps lying about the effect of Labor’s position and embracing a more competitive tax rate. It is simply not true that a 10.5 per cent tax rate would disadvantage Australian workers. They are simply just not the facts. Of course for many, many years now, including today, the backpacker tax rate has been zero. Barnaby Joyce knew two years ago backpackers were falling away from our farms here in Australia and of course our tourism operations. Instead of doing something about it, he decided to apply a 32.5 per cent tax on backpackers. That is hopeless for our farmers. 19 per cent is also too high. Farmers and growers are lining up to tell me that at 19 per cent it is not internationally competitive and they are also telling me they need this matter resolved. Labor stands ready to pass the backpacker tax this week at 10.5 per cent. The Government can join with us or go and hide and leave fruit literally rotting on the vines and the trees and in our paddocks. It’s up to them.
JOURNALIST: Joel Fitzgibbon, is the TPP dead?
FITZGIBBON: Well I hope the TPP is not dead and I hope the new US Administration commits itself to a free and open international trading framework. Australia is a small island trading continent and our interests are best served when the world is embracing free trade. In agriculture for example we export two third of everything we produce in this country and we have aspirations to sell more at higher value and we won’t meet those aspirations if the big players in the global community decide to put the walls up.