AUSTRALIA’S backpacker-employing farmers have about two weeks to make submissions to a review of the issues affecting the work and pay conditions of working holiday maker visa holders.
The Coalition Government announced the review and public consultation on backpacker issues today, deferring for six months any decision on a potential backpacker tax, pending the review’s outcome.
Public submissions to the review must be made by Friday, September 2, 2016. For more information or to make a submission, visit agriculture.gov.au/workingholidaymaker.
The review’s outcomes will take the form of a government announcement in advance of any changes coming into effect from January 1, 2017.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said Assistant Minister Luke Hartsuyker, who has responsibility for agricultural workforce matters, will lead the review.
“This review is essential to ensuring the government’s policy settings continue to meet growing demand for flexible labour, particularly in rural and regional Australia.
“Both farmers and tourism operators have expressed strong opinions about the supply and taxation of working holiday visa holders,” Mr Joyce said.
“The proper application of the long-established tax rate of 32.5 per cent for non-residents has been raised as a potential disincentive for backpackers to take on roles that are not being met by Australian workers.
“We have listened to those concerns,” he said.
“The government recognises that the 200,000 plus working holiday makers who come here each year are a vital source of labour across the nation, which is why we have deferred for six months implementation of the so-called backpacker tax, pending the outcome of this review.
“To help fully capture the views of both agriculture and tourism sectors, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu have been commissioned to lead the public engagement process.”
The review will address the government’s terms of reference, which are focused around four key themes:
- Australia’s international competitiveness for backpackers
- seasonal and temporary jobs and projected growth in agriculture and tourism
- support for small businesses around engaging seasonal labour, and
- protections for vulnerable workers.
Assistant Minister Hartsuyker said labour supply was a fundamental issue across many Australian industries, most particularly in the agricultural sector.
“However, it is equally important that working holiday makers pay a fair level of tax while in Australia.
“This is a complex issue that goes beyond the tax rate alone,” Mr Hartsuyker said.
“This review will be based on informed understanding not only of the seasonal and temporary labour challenges facing our industries, but also the challenges facing the Australian economy in a global labour market.
“With jobs in our fruit and vegetable industries alone set to increase by 8.4 and 5.8 per cent respectively by 2020, we must ensure that Australia remains competitive in the international labour market where demand cannot be met domestically,” he said.
“I encourage everyone with an interest in these important issues to get involved.”
Source: Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources.