Agriculture and farming sector not happy with backpacker tax, Budget measures

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 4th May 2016

BackpackerA number of agriculture and farming representative groups have today expressed disappointment over the government’s decision to keep the backpacker tax introduced in the 2015 budget.

Amongst upset groups was vegetable industry representative body, AUSVEG, which said growers are concerned will act as a deterrent to work on Australian farms and jeopardise the viability of the vegetable industry.

The tax will remove the tax-free threshold and increase the amount of tax paid by workers who come to Australia under the Working Holiday Maker program.

“The decision by the Federal Government to keep the proposed backpacker tax unchanged in the Federal Budget could impact the ability for Australian vegetable growers to harvest their crops and potentially devastate the industry,” said AUSVEG Deputy CEO Andrew White.

Without any changes to the tax announced in the budget, the backpacker tax will be introduced on 2 July 2016.

Decision on backpacker tax “unacceptable”: WA Farmers Federation

The WA Farmers Federation joined AUSVEG in its disappointment over the tax decision, labelling it “unacceptable”.

WAFarmers Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Brown said the move would cause irreparable damage to the Australian economy.

“We are thoroughly disappointed that the advocacy efforts of WAFarmers, the National Farmers Federation, other industry organisations and individual working holiday makers appear to have been in vain,” Brown said.

“Despite constructive and open discussion during a round-table workshop with Federal Ministers and Senators last month, during which the interests of WAFarmers and other Western Australian stakeholders were represented, it appears our recommendations have simply been ignored,” he stated.

“This is an extremely disappointing result, and appears to be a way of the government taking the easiest way out of a highly contentious issue,” he said.

National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility investment

The farming and agriculture sector benefited from other Budget announcements, including the ten year tax plan, the inland rail link and the National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility’ which will see AUD $2 billion awarded in concessional loans to invest in water infrastructure.

In a commentary by the National Australia Bank, these were described as “modest initiatives, reflecting a subdued overall revenue environment”.

For a detailed overview of the 2016 budget and how it impacts the food and beverage industry, please click here.