| October 20, 2016
An open letter to the horticulturalists of the Murray Electorate
Over the last few months, I've spoken with many of you in the community about the issues and challenges surrounding the Backpacker Tax.
Whilst the Coalition Government have been trying to find a balance that will ensure backpackers pay a fair contribution for access to our health system and infrastructure, the National Party within the Coalition Government have been focused on resolving the issue as quickly as possible.
I was relieved that on 27 September 2016, we were able to announce a 19 per cent tax rate for working holiday makers had been set. This followed six weeks of consultative meetings right across Australia, chaired by the Nationals Luke Hartsukyer.
Again, the message coming back to the review committee was that this issue remains time critical and the Coalition Government must send a clear message to the world that Australia is open for business and ready to welcome working holiday makers. In particular, those who plan to work in the Goulburn Valley, helping our orchardists get their fruit from the trees to the bins.
This week the Coalition Government passed the legislation through the House of Representatives that will put this issue to bed. I had an opportunity to debate the legislation and ensured our electorate was heard. We are now in a position to send that clear message to backpackers all around the world that Australia remains a great destination, and importantly, a destination of choice. We offer to those on a working holiday visa good wages, a fantastic standard of living, world class amenities and once you've earned enough money an amazing holiday destination.
The only problem with this issue now is the Senate!
The Labor Party, Greens and Cross Bench are now indicating they want to delay the legislation whilst they have their own inquiry. In typical Labor fashion they have been criticising from opposition and as soon as the opportunity arises for them to support an important piece of legislation, they move to delay.
Labor says it will pass the legislation before Christmas - but again - this simply reinforces that they have no understanding of the issue.
These working holiday makers need time to plan their trip. They need assurance. They need this issue resolved now!
The Coalition Government will commence its advertising campaign immediately and is spending $10m overseas promoting the benefits of Australia as a working holiday destination.
It's just a shame that BillShorten and Labor fail to see the danger in playing games with this essential workforce, not only for our local community, but communities just like ours around the country.
Please continue to stay in contact with me about this important issue. You can view my debate on the Backpacker Tax via my Facebook page, email me at email@example.com .au or call my office on 03 5821 5371.
Damian Drum MP
Federal Member for Murray