National Farmers' Federation

NFF angered by budget inaction on backpacker tax

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has tonight welcomed key measures that will benefit agriculture announced in the Federal Budget, but is angered by the lack of any plan to address the controversial backpacker tax.
Speaking from Canberra, NFF President, Brent Finlay said new initiatives which build on last year’s $4 billion Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper were excellent news for the sector but enthusiasm for the Budget was tempered by the damage that would be incurred at the hands of the controversial backpacker tax.
“There is no doubt we are delighted to see the tax burden on small business eased – with a 2.5 percent tax cut for small companies, an increase to the tax discount for unincorporated entities, and more generous deduction rules,” Mr Finlay said.
“Another cash injection of $594 million for Inland Rail is also warmly welcomed, but falls short of the funding needed to break ground on the project.”
Despite these positive elements, Mr Finlay said the Government must urgently act on the destructive backpacker tax to restore certainty and confidence to thousands of farm businesses and rural communities as well as industries such as tourism that rely on the backpacker workforce.
“There were literally thousands of farming families, agricultural businesses and tourism operators who were desperately hoping the backpacker tax, in its current form, would be abandoned in tonight’s Budget,” he said.
“We have received more than 31,000 signatures on a petition opposing this measure. We have banded together, both as an industry and across sectors, to show that the negative impacts will be wide-reaching and felt by thousands of Australian families. We have given clear examples of what this pain will involve.
“It is now time for the Government to respond to the risk imposed on the sector by a measure that will chase working holiday makers away from Australia and, in the process, decimate the agricultural workforce.”
Mr Finlay said tonight’s budget was a precursor to strong advocacy from the NFF, in the lead up to the imminent Federal Election, that would focus on policy that would underwrite a strong and prosperous rural sector.
“Never before has agriculture been so strongly positioned to grow the Australian economy and contribute to the prosperity of the entire nation,” he said.
“We look forward to hearing policies from both the Government and Opposition that will help us take hold of these opportunities and deliver economic and social returns for the nation.”

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