Farmers demanding proper review into backpacker tax

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 17th August 2016

Australian farmers heavily reliant on backpacker labour are asking for an in-depth examination into the controversial ‘backpacker tax’ as a Federal Government review into the tax begins this week.

Originally set to be introduced during the 2016 federal election campaign, the proposed legislation, which increases the tax take by removing the tax-free threshold for non-resident taxpayers, was put on hold with the Federal government saying it wanted to conduct a review into the tax which was opposed by crop growers.

The delay in introducing the tax was criticised as an attempt by the Liberal party to win votes.

Those against the tax believe it will drive the overseas fruit pickers away as they will have to pay tax on any amount of money they earn.

AUSVEG, the national body representing Australia’s 9,000 vegetable growers, is calling for the Federal Government to listen to the concerns of every industry reliant on overseas workers.

“We’re pleased that the Government has finally commenced this review, and we hope that they listen to the concerns of every industry that relies on this critical labour source over the coming weeks,” said Brooke-Barnett, a spokesperson for AUSVEG.

“It would be incredibly disappointing to see Australia’s growers suffer as a result of a short-sighted policy decision that failed to acknowledge the flow-on effects of having backpackers live and work in regional Australia,” Brooke-Barnett said.

The Australian Fruit Picking Industry

Since 2009, the Seasonal Workers Programs has been in operation within Australia to help address issues of farmers not being able to find seasonal fruit pickers. The program encouragers overseas workers to come to Australia by giving them the opportunity to earn money picking fruit.

According to the National Farmers’ Federation, as of May 2015, almost 3,500 seasonal workers had been placed in horticultural jobs in 50 different government areas.

Despite the reliance on overseas fruit pickers, over the past several years, a number of cases of mistreatment of overseas fruit pickers have been reported.

Australian regions reliant on fruit pickers

Northern Territory

Harvest Dates Main Crops Locations
Mar – Oct Melons ( Various) Darwin & Katherine
Oct & Nov Mangos (both picking & packing) Darwin & Katherine
Year Round Citrus Darwin & Katherine
Year Round Bananas Darwin & Katherine
Year Round Asian vegetables Darwin
Year Round Wildflowers Darwin

Western Australia


Harvest Dates Main Crops Locations
Jan – Mar Grapes Margaret River, Mt Barker, Swan Valley
Mar – May Apples & Pears Manjimup, Donnybrook, Pemberton
Mar – Oct Scalloping & Prawning Carnarvon
May – Sep Rockmelons & Zucchini Kununurra
Apr – Nov Melons Coorow
Jun – Dec Tomatoes & Melons Carnarvon
Jul – Aug Bananas Kununurra
Jul – Dec Wildflowers Muchea, Coorow
Oct – Jan Mangoes Kununurra
All Year Fishing Broome
Nov – Jun Rock Lobster Dongara, Geraldton, Broome,Freemantle , Kalbarri

South Australia

Harvest Dates Main Crops Locations
Jan – Mar Dried Fruits Riverland
Feb – Apr Apples & Pears Adelaide Hills
Feb – Apr Peaches & Grapes Riverland
Feb – Apr Grapes Barossa Valley, Southern Vales
Feb – Aug Brussels Sprouts Adelaide Hills
Jun – Aug Oranges Riverland
Jun – Sep Pruning Riverland
Sep – Jan Oranges Riverland
Oct – Feb Strawberries Adelaide Hills
Dec – Feb Apricots Riverland



Harvest Dates Main Crops Locations
Mar – May Apples West Tamar,Hunter Valley, Tasman Peninsula
Dec – Jan Various Fruits Kingborough, Derwent Valley, Channel District, Huon
Feb – Apr Grapes Tamar Valley, Huon
Mar & Apr Hops Devenport, Scottsdale, New Norfolk
Jan & Feb Scallop Splitting Bicheno


Harvest Dates Main Crops Locations
Jan – Apr Pears / Peaches / Apples Cobram, Invergordon, Kyabram,Ardmona, Shepparton,Tatura
Jan – Apr Tomatoes Kyabram,Echuca, Rochester, Elmore, Ardmona,Shepparton, Tatura
Jan – Apr Tobacco Ovens, King & Kiewa Valleys
Feb & Mar Grapes Swan Hill, Robinvale, Sunraysia Area,Lake Boga, Nyah West
Sep – Nov Asparagus Dalmore
Oct – Dec Strawberries Silvan
Nov – Feb Cherries / Berries Silvan, Wandin

New South Wales

Harvest Dates Main Crops Locations
Jan – Mar Stone Fruit Young
Feb & Mar Grapes Leeton, Griffith
Feb & Mar Pears Orange
Feb & Mar Grapes Hunter Valley
Feb & Mar Prunes Young
Feb – Apr Apples Orange
Mar & Apr Grapes Tumburumba
Mar – May Apples Batlow
Mar – Jun Cotton Picking Narrabri, Mooree
Sep – Oct Asparagus Gundagai
Sep – Dec Asparagus Cowra
Sep – Apr Oranges Griffith
Nov & Dec Cherries Young, Orange
Nov – Apr Oranges Lecton
Dec & Jan Onions Griffith
Dec – Mar Stone Fruit Tumut, Batlow
Dec – Apr Blueberries Tumbarumba


Harvest Dates Main Crops Locations
Dec-Jan Sugar & Bananas Innisfail, Tully
Feb – Mar Apples & Pears Stanthorpe
Feb & Apr Melons (Rockmelon) St. George
Feb – Apr Ginger Sunshine Coast
Mar – Dec Various Vegetables Bundaberg
Apr – Jun Citrus ( Oranges, Mandarins) Gayandah, Mundubbera
Apr – Oct Various Fruits & Vegetables Lockyer Valley
Apr – Nov Beans Mary Valley
Apr – Dec Various Vegetables & Tomatoes Bowen, Ayr
May – Oct Broccoli Toowoomba
May – Dec Sugar Cane Ayr, Innisfail, Ingham
Jul – Sep Ginger Sunshine Coast
Jul – Dec Onions Lockyer Valley
Nov – Feb Mangoes, Lychees, Bananas, Advocados Mareeba
Nov – Jan Plums Stanthorpe
Nov – Jan Cotton Goodiwindi, St. George
Oct – Jan Peaches Stanthorpe
Nov – Mar Cotton Millerran, Toowoomba

Source: Fruit Picking Jobs