A DELEGATION of farmers and growers has travelled to Canberra today to bring the realities of the ongoing backpacker tax uncertainty to MPs and Senators, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF), Tony Mahar said.
The eight farmers have gone to Canberra despite a lack of interest from key parliamentary decision makers to meet with them.
“The message to the politicians is simple – throwing your hands up and saying ‘we’ve done all we can do’ is not good enough. Please stop the buck passing and compromise on a tax this week that is fair and reasonable,” Mr Mahar said.
“The NFF has said that the tax should represent a rate that attracts backpackers into the sector and is comparable to the rates paid to Australian workers. With this in mind, we proposed a fairer tax rate in the range of 15 to 19 per cent, unless the Parliament determined that a lower rate was appropriate.
“In our view while ever the government sees the tax as a budget fix measure and while ever the Opposition and cross benchers see it as a political wedge, we won’t get an outcome.
“With the farmers here I hope they can see that the outcome is actually about real people, real jobs and real communities.”
Group spokesperson and persimmon grower, Brett Guthrey, said coming to Canberra was about telling his story in the hope that it “flicks the switch” in forcing politicians to come together and agree on a sensible compromise this week.
“We are already bearing the brunt of the failure of the Parliament to find a workable compromise on the backpacker tax. Sourcing backpacker labour is getting harder and harder – our fruit is going to rot on the trees,” Mr Guthrey said.
“This uncertainty is hurting our businesses now and it is causing pain and anxiety in families and communities. Even if an outcome is reached this week, damage has been done. Attracting backpackers back to our sector will be difficult for many seasons to come.
“We are astonished that the Parliament can’t put aside the politics and do what it is paid to do, find solutions in the interests of Australia.
“Getting the issue resolved should just not be this hard.”