News and Views

Farmers reject backpacker tax

NSW Farmers Members have unanimously supported the abolition of the proposed backpacker tax as concern grows about labour resources for the upcoming harvest season.

Delegates at the NSW Farmers Annual Conference in Sydney passed policy to clearly reiterate that the proposed 32.5% backpacker tax from January 1 2017 must be abolished in its current form.

“The backpacker tax will deter a significant number of backpackers from coming to Australia, and for those who come, there will be little incentive for them to be working in agriculture,” NSW Farmers President Derek Schoen said. “It will create a major labour shortage in industries like horticulture and grain and is expected to see many crops not harvested due to a labour shortage.”

Around 38,000 backpackers work in the agricultural sector each year or around 25% of the total labour force in the industry.

“Backpackers working on farms now are telling our Members that they will be telling friends to head to other countries instead of Australia because of this unfair tax.

“Government has to fix the proposed backpacker tax as a matter of priority. It is inadequate for this uncertainty to continue until the end of the year when it is the height of harvest for a number of commodities. The longer this uncertainty goes on, the more it is going to exacerbate the current trend of declining numbers of incoming backpackers.

“This proposal has created much uncertainty and is reducing investment in the industry, which in turn is expected to lead to lower agricultural production. This is expected to lead to less exports and higher prices for consumers.

“Backpackers make substantial contribution to the regional economy in tourism and agriculture. We need to be encouraging more backpackers to come to Australia, not implementing a policy that will deter these young people from coming to Australia,” Mr Schoen concluded.

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