SUBJECT/S: Backpacker Tax


HOST: The Government is paying for the change by tying it to other measures including a 95 per cent tax on backpackers’ super and a higher tax on all passengers departing Australia for overseas. Labor and its agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon are refusing to rush those through.

JOEL FITZGIBBON, SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, FORESTRY AND RURAL AND REGIONAL AUSTRALIA: It’s absolutely normal for a bill like that to go to a Senate Committee. That’s the normal course of things and I note that despite declaring the urgency, the Government hasn’t introduced the bill into the Parliament for debate today which is what you would do if you thought it was urgent. Remember that the Labor Party has said that it will expedite its passage through the House of Representatives.

HOST: What do you say to farmers who say that Labor has abandoned them on this issue?

FITZGIBBON: How have we abandoned them?

HOST: By delaying once again something they have called for a resolution to for almost 18 months.

FITZGIBBON: Which farmers? The National Farmers Federation has said that but I am inundated with farmers in particular calling me saying we don’t want 19 per cent. By the Government’s own admission 19 per cent is no different than 32.5 per cent.

HOST: So if that’s your justification for a review, why a review? Why not just say, okay we will ditch it all together?

FITZGIBBON: We are not having a review, we are having a Senate Committee look into a bill in the Parliament. That is what happens with almost every bill. And again, it is a bill with three new taxes in it and it’s perfectly reasonable to have this Senate Committee, as it always does, to ask some questions, in particular on the impact of the increase of the departure tax on our tourism sector and the impact on farmers with hitting them with a 9 per cent superannuation charge and putting it straight back to the tax office. That is extraordinary.

HOST: Are you prepared to accept politicians on both side have dudded farmers on this issue by taking so long to resolve it?

FITZGIBBON: How can that be Anna? In May of 2015, the Government of the day proposed a new backpacker tax.

HOST: Which Labor didn’t oppose at the time.

FITZGIBBON: I do face the dilemma Anna when the National Farmers Federation and a number of other industry groups are telling me to vote for 19 per cent but at the same time the Government, and growers are telling me they can’t compete at 19 per cent, so it is the Government who has created this dilemma for me. It is the Government who has created this mess and it is for the Government to fix this mess. Having cried crocodile tears about getting it through the Parliament quickly, they have failed to introduce it to the Parliament for debate today.

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