The Turnbull-Joyce Government has listened to industry concerns about possible labour shortages resulting from the 1 July 2016 application of the non-permanent resident tax rate to backpackers, and has agreed to review the tax, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce said today.
Mr Joyce said the review will form part of a broad review of the workforce shortages faced by the agriculture and tourism industries.
“The Coalition understands the agriculture sector faces ongoing challenges to secure an adequate workforce to pick the fruit, harvest the crops, process the meat and milk the cows,” Mr Joyce said.
Mr Joyce said the Coalition had listened to the concerns of farmers and rural communities who have worried backpackers may choose not to come to Australia if they have to pay the proposed 32.5% tax burden.
“Working holiday makers are an important source of workers for agriculture, with more than 90 per cent of second year working holiday maker visa holders having worked in agriculture in their first year in Australia.
“Upon our re-election, the Coalition will establish an inter-departmental Review into 417 and 462 Visa Labour which will report by 14 October 2016, allowing any changes to be introduced by 1 January 2017.
“Stakeholders have told the Government there are many factors impacting the availability of labour in agriculture, including but not exclusively backpackers, and the review will consider all of these.
“The Coalition will continue to stand by our farmers, helping them to lift farmgate returns, grow quality food and fibre and create jobs in our regional communities.
“The twenty-first century is the century of agriculture, which offers great opportunities for Australians with a wide range of skills – from school leavers and those seeking to enter the workforce for the first time, to TAFE and university graduates. The agriculture sector offers a great chance to take that important first step on the jobs ladder.
“Australia has the opportunity to double its agricultural production to meet growing global food and fibre demand – but it needs the workforce to do so.”
And the main focus of meeting the workforce challenges of Australia’s productive and innovative agriculture sector must be on employing Australians. For this reason, the Coalition Government is introducing measures such as the Youth Jobs PaTH to help young people access employment.
“However, we recognise that many farmers struggle to attract adequate workers to get our quality produce from paddock to the plate and for this reason a re-elected Coalition Government will not introduce the backpacker tax on 1 July,” Mr Joyce said.