SUBJECT/S: Backpacker tax, Government dysfunction, National Farmers Federation President Fiona Simson.


JOEL FITZGIBBON, SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, FORESTRY AND RURAL AND REGIONAL AUSTRALIA: In an interview with David Speers this afternoon, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann threw Treasurer Scott Morrison under a bus not once, not twice, not three times but at least 10 times. During Question time today both the Treasurer and Barnaby Joyce tried to cover their tracks with their backpacker tax debacle by completely misleading the Australian people claiming that at Labor’s 10.5 per cent backpacker tax rate, Australian workers would be paying more than visiting foreign workers. That is patently untrue. We have released figures that have proved that to be untrue. Mathias Cormann also knows it to be untrue and that’s why he, when constantly asked by David Speers this afternoon to back what Scott Morrison had to say in Question Time, Mathias Cormann refused to do so on numerous occasions.

This Government is dysfunctional, chaotic and is in a mess. It can’t get anything right and now it is trying to lie to the Australian people to cover up for its own errors. It is time the Government came into line with the Senate, came into line with the Labor Party and came into line with crossbenchers and backed us in restoring the international competiveness of our backpacker tax regime. Backpackers have been deserting us since this Government first announced its $540 million backpacker tax. They have continued to desert us ever since - for 18 months now. The only way we can restore our international competiveness is to back 10.5 per cent. The Senate has now done so the House of Representatives needs to do so too and it needs to do so as quickly as possible - preferably today.

Can I first of all congratulate Fiona Simson who today was elected President of the National Farmers Federation. I’m sure she will do a very fine job, she is a very capable leader and a very capable lady but she also has an opportunity now. I see the National Farmers Federation has again today backed the Government and has backed a 19 per cent backpacker tax. That is despite the fact the Senate has listened to the hundreds of growers who have been contacting me, saying 19 per cent is too high and they can’t compete at 19 per cent and that they can’t get backpackers at 19 per cent. Fiona Simson as a new President now has a wonderful opportunity, to lead the National Farmers Federation out of the constant support they have given the Government on this issue and to come with us and the Senate and crossbenchers to back a 10.5 per cent backpacker tax.

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