National Farmers' Federation

Farmers meet Ministers in backpacker tax review

Representatives of the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) met with key Australian Government Ministers in Sydney yesterday, as part of the review of the proposed ‘backpacker tax’ announced last week.
Minister for Tourism, Richard Colbeck, Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Anne Ruston and Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister, Keith Pitt attended the meeting and acknowledged deep concerns across the agriculture sector surrounding the impact of the tax on rural and regional Australia.
An online petition, promoted by the NFF and its member organisations, against the tax has reached more than 30,000 signatures as primary producers, small businesses and workers across Australia continue to call on Government to put the tax on hold and focus on securing a long term, sustainable agricultural workforce solution.
NFF President, Brent Finlay, welcomed the Government’s initiative to bring key stakeholders together, but expressed concern at the requirement from Government for any solution be ‘revenue neutral’.
“Since the announcement of this tax we have heard from primary producers across the country who say it will reduce agricultural productivity and stifle spending in rural and regional towns,” Mr Finlay said.
“These concerns, together with the extremely positive forecast for agricultural sector growth and its ability to robustly contribute to the Australian economy, must be considered in any modelling about the likely revenue effect of the tax.
“In 2014-15, more than 38,000 working holiday makers worked on Australian farms, and on average spent almost $15,000 each across the year.
“It’s fool’s gold to assume a net revenue gain without taking these vital factors into account. Australian farmers are looking to build upon the significant growth potential of our global markets, and we can’t do it without our workforce.
“As the Ministers have each recognised, this issue is too important to rural Australia to be left alone.
“We look forward to working closely with Government toward a swift resolution over coming weeks, so the Australian agriculture sector is best positioned to reach its full potential over the next 15 years and beyond.”

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