National Farmers' Federation

Labor must ignore AWU, declare support for farmers

The National Farmers Federation has challenged Labor to declare its commitment to fixing agriculture’s workforce crisis.

CEO Tony Mahar said farmers were frustrated that Labor last night thwarted the passage of a reduced tax rate from 32.5 percent to 15 percent for people working pursuant to the Australian Agriculture Worker Program. 

The change would bring the tax arrangements for AAWP workers in line with those of backpackers. 

“Against the odds farmers have continued to power an at-times ailing economy during the pandemic, keeping supermarket shelves stocked and GDP ticking over,” Mr Mahar said. 

“The biggest challenge to farmers continues to be unprecedented workforce shortages. Last night’s Bill was one of a suite of measures that would help address the problem.”  

Mr Mahar said on the eve of an election campaign, Labor must commit to real action to fixing agriculture’s labour drought and quit taking their cues from the AWU.

“The AWU is out of touch with what’s happening on farms, in shearing sheds and packing facilities across this nation. 

“AWU membership in the sector wouldn’t fill a small town country hall. In the bush the AWU is nothing but white noise, frustrating meaningful progress to improve the prosperity of those that live and work there. 

“To demonstrate an understanding of the pressures farmers are facing, Labor must supportthe Income Tax Amendment (Labour Mobility Program) Bill and 100% back in continued progress on an agriculture workforce solution.”

Mr Mahar said the nature of agriculture meant the sector would always need a combination of local and international workers. 

“With borders reopened and planes back in the sky, we must do all we can to ensure we attract international workers back to Australian farms.

“A reduced tax rate is one way to do this. If we don’t, the consequence will be higher supermarket prices at a time when cost of living pressures are already ratcheted up.” 

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