SUBJECT/S: Backpacker tax


JOEL FITZGIBBON, SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, FORESTRY AND RURAL AND REGIONAL AUSTRALIA: I have just been listening to the Prime Minister speak to Fran Kelly on Radio National where he completely and possibly deliberately misled the Australian people about the impact of his new backpacker tax. Fran Kelly asked him whether his advice was that the 19 per cent tax rate would restore Australia’s international competitiveness. He said that was his understanding. That was of course a qualified answer. But he knows or should know that Treasury modelling demonstrates that 19 per cent backpacker tax is just as bad as 32.5 per cent. 19 per cent will continue to drive backpackers away from this country and that is bad news for those in our agriculture sector and of course those in our tourism sector. This government is progressing this tax notwithstanding the fact it knows it’s going to damage farming and the tourism sectors. Imposing this tax on the farming sector, holding a gun to its head, saying support 19 or you will cop 32.5. That is a disrespectful way to treat our farmers and the Prime Minister should come into the House today and apologise and correct himself because he knows, or should know, that he was wrong when he said that 19 per cent is going to restore our international competitiveness.

JOURNALIST: Will Labor support the backpacker tax in the Senate?

FITZGIBBON: Labor has been accused of delaying the backpacker tax, but this is absolutely wrong. The Senate doesn’t sit for three weeks. We did not oppose the backpacker tax in the House, we did that so it could get to the Senate as quickly as possible. The Government could have debated the backpacker tax last week and chose not to do so. What we are about is making sure Australia remains internationally competitive. Treasury modelling shows by the Government’s own admission that the 19 per cent does not restore our international competitiveness. We will continue to fight for farmers and in the Senate inquiry we will be asking Treasury to tell us at what tax Australia’s international competitiveness is restored. That’s the million dollar question here. We will continue to defend famers and those in our tourism sector. I call upon Libs and National Party members in regional seats affected by this tax to start standing up for their constituents.


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