| May 17, 2016

Win for Murray as backpacker tax change is delayed

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Nationals have secured a win for regional communities by successfully lobbying for a six month delay on proposed tax changes for backpacker workers, according to Nationals candidate for Murray Damian Drum.

The Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer today announced a six-month delay on removing the tax-free threshold for backpackers, who provide labour for farms as part of their working holiday visa arrangements.

The Federal Government will also conduct a broad review of the workforce shortages faced by the agriculture and tourism industries.

Mr Drum said The Nationals had listened carefully to industry concerns about possible labour shortages resulting from the changes.

“These changes are of a critical nature,  this labour force underpins some of our larger businesses that has a direct flow on to the backbone of our regional economy, our small business owners.

“Northern Victoria rely on the backpacker workforce to get our produce from paddock to plate more efficiently, and there were genuine concerns the tax measure would discourage overseas visits going elsewhere to travel and work,” Mr Drum said.

“Ideally, we want Australian locals to be employed in these roles. But when labour is in short supply, the backpackers play an important role especially at peak production and harvest times.

“They also spend their money in our local towns, and there are broader benefits by having people from different countries living in the Goulburn Valley and experiencing what our region has to offer.”

Mr Drum said today’s announcement was the result of intense lobbying by regional MPs and demonstrates the power of regional Australians when the Nationals are in Government,” he said.

Mr Drum said the he number of backpackers has grown significantly since the inception of the 417 and 462 visa programmes, with backpacker visa numbers are up from 85,000 in 2001/02 to 226,000 in 2014/15.

About 40,000 backpackers work in agriculture each year to gain a second visa year to remain in Australia. The review will report back to the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources by 14 October 2016. 


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