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Face-saving deal with Greens sees 15pc backpacker tax passed

Grain Central, December 1, 2016

THE Federal Government’s 15 per cent backpacker tax legislation passed in the Senate last night following an 11th-hour deal with the Greens.

The Upper House approved the motion 43 votes to 19.

Barnaby Joyce

Barnaby Joyce

In a deal struck yesterday afternoon on the last day of parliamentary sittings, the Greens extracted significant concessions from the Government in exchange for their support of the Bill.

Under the agreement, the Government will ditch plans to tax 95pc of backpacker superannuation, agreeing to lower it to 65pc, and will provide an extra $100 in Landcare funding.

Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of The Nationals, Barnaby Joyce, has welcomed the breakthrough on the tax which will commence at 15pc in the New Year.

The decision ends 18 months of uncertainty over the tax that culminated in one of the most tumultuous weeks in parliament.

The government had initially proposed in the 2015 budget a 32.5pc tax for seasonal workers that was strongly opposed by the farming sector.

It subsequently changed its position to calling for the tax to be 19pc before agreeing on Monday this week to lower the rate to 15pc in the hope of gaining enough cross-bench support to get it through parliament.

However, on Wednesday the Senate rejected the Government’s proposed 15pc tax and instead passed a Labor Party amendment for a 10.5pc tax. The amended Bill went back to the House of Representatives where it was defeated.

WAFarmers chief executive officer, Stephen Brown, said the eventual passing of the 15pc legislation yesterday was welcomed by WAFarmers.

“We’ve finally got certainty after 18 months of deliberation, and growers can now breathe easier knowing that there will continue to be a supply of working holiday makers ready and willing to pick their produce,” he said.

“It also ensures that Australia remains an attractive competitive nation in which to holiday and work.

“Australia’s 40,000 backpackers contribute approximately $3.5 billion to the economy and their presence in Australia boosts not only productivity in the agricultural sector, but also communities and businesses which rely on tourism spending, so the decision to back the 15 per cent tax rate really is a no-brainer.”

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