Backpackers tax 90 second statement.
Mr FITZGIBBON (Hunter) (13:39): On budget night, without any warning or consultation, the government introduced a new backpackers tax. It was a cash grab which has been condemned by the agriculture sector and its leadership, and by other industries which rely heavily on backpacker labour. The government did not even offer a policy objective. It just wanted the money. Sadly, it did not take into account any other economic impact. For example, in my experience backpackers spend all of the money they earn in Australia on meals, drinks and accommodation.
If it was the government's intention to improve the 417 and 462 visa classes, we would be keen to work with it. We in this place must make absolutely sure that backpackers are not taking the jobs of Australians. Possibly, an agriculture specific visa class may be part of the solution. But, of course, there are other sectors, including tourism, which also need to be taken care of. The key objective must be to give growers and produces the labour they need while protecting Australian jobs. Sadly, that is not what the government's new tax is about. Sadly, National Party MPs in this place and Liberals representing regional electorates have gone missing on this subject. Once again, they have been unprepared to stand up to their conservative partners. They should come in here today and do just that.