SUBJECT/S: Backpacker tax

JOEL FITZGIBBON, SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, FORESTRY AND RURAL AND REGIONAL AUSTRALIA: This morning I am launching a full scale inquiry into what has happened to the Government’s backpacker tax. On all-points bulletin, the bill has gone missing. This was the issue that was, for the last few weeks, desperately urgent. The Government needed this bill through the Parliament immediately notwithstanding the fact they tied the backpacker tax to two other new taxation arrangements.

Surprise, surprise, I have heard Barnaby Joyce this morning - the backpacker tax debate is no longer about farmers and their need to secure backpacker labour. It’s no longer a taxation debate, it is about workers’ rights. Who would have believed it? Barnaby Joyce is concerned about Australian workers and their rights. And of course he is concerned about his daughters. He says that his daughters might end up paying more tax than a backpacker. That is just absolutely wrong and is Barnaby Joyce spin again. He is completely misleading the Australian people. It is also clear Barnaby Joyce has taken no notice of the Senate Inquiry or the important taxation and labour issues that were canvassed where growers lined up to tell Senators that 19 per cent is too big and is going to force much needed labour away from their farms.

The Government needs to put the bill in the Senate today and it is important this matter is settled before Christmas because if it isn’t, the Government’s backpacker tax will go back to the Government’s 32.5 per cent rate and none of us want that. We could have the backpacker tax bill through the Senate today. The overwhelming majority in the Senate believe 10.5 per cent is the right public policy, is the right thing for Australian farmers and in particular Australian growers and Barnaby Joyce needs to get behind it and needs stop feigning some newfound concern about the rights of Australian workers.

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