Leading horticulture body AUSVEG has applauded Senator Jacqui Lambie’s strong stand on the so-called “backpacker tax”, following the Tasmanian Senator’s calls yesterday for the Government to listen to industry and state government leaders about the potential adverse implications for Australian industry from the Government’s proposed changes to the tax status of working holiday makers.

The Senator’s sentiments come during an interdepartmental review of the Australian Government’s plan to remove the tax-free threshold on backpackers’ earnings and tax them at a rate of 32.5 per cent. The review has been undertaken in response to widespread concern about the damage that the proposal could inflict on the Australian horticulture industry, which relies on backpackers to harvest crops.

“AUSVEG is concerned about the ramifications of this tax – not just for Australian horticulture, but for all rural and regional communities that rely on backpackers as an invaluable source of labour and income,” said AUSVEG CEO Simon Bolles.

“We support the Senator’s concerns about the damaging effect of this tax, and we call on the Government to listen to industry so that a reasonable solution can be agreed to that addresses industry’s concerns and does not risk the livelihoods of Australia’s hard-working growers.”

“AUSVEG thanks Senator Lambie for continuing to raise concerns about the backpacker tax and for highlighting serious issues that affect local growers in the Australian vegetable industry.”

AUSVEG is the national body representing Australia’s vegetable and potato growers.

AUSVEG has been making representations on behalf of the vegetable and potato industries to all sides of politics in Canberra this week to relay the industry’s concerns about the proposed backpacker tax and other important issues, including labour hire concerns and competition policy.

“As the industry comes to its busiest period, many growers are concerned that the reputational damage of the proposed backpacker tax has already affected their ability to source labour to harvest crops,” said Mr Bolles.

“Backpackers who come to Australia are vital to ensure that Australian growers can keep feeding our nation. This means that policies which could deter workers from visiting Australia, such as the proposed backpacker tax, threaten the productivity of our industry and its ability to satisfy our growing export markets, as well as the health of everyday Australians.”

Shaun Lindhe, AUSVEG National Manager – Communications 
Phone: (03) 9882 0277, Mobile: 0405 977 789, Email: shaun.lindhe@ausveg.com.au