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Labor-Lambie-One Nation leave fruit to rot on trees

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T h e H o n . B a r n a b y J o y c e M P

D e p u t y P r i m e M i n i s t e r

M i n i s t e r f o r A g r i c u l t u r e a n d W a t e r R e s o u r c e s


Media contact: Jake Smith 0403 466 153

Labor-Lambie-One Nation leave fruit to rot on trees

 Lambie-Shorten-One Nation pact proposes to tax Aussie fruit-pickers more than foreign backpackers;  Labor refuses to detail costings of its plan  Australian Tax Office warns about impacts of stalling legislation  Fruit could be left to rot on trees over Christmas as Labor attempts to delay ‘backpacker tax’


Labor, One Nation and Independent Senator Jacquie Lambie’s pact to sledge Australian fruit pickers with a higher tax rate than overseas backpackers only serves to hurt Australian farmers, fruit-pickers and families.

“The only result of this pact is that people won’t turn up to work. Farmers are being used as political fodder which should come as no surprise from a Labor party who has cut funding to the regions, stood in the way of water infrastructure and attempted to decimate our live cattle industry.

“What incentive is there for Australians to pick fruit, when the backpackers working beside them in the heat will be paid more?” Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of The Nationals, Barnaby Joyce, said.

He warned Labor’s proposed delays to the ‘backpacker tax’ reforms were not only uncosted but also put Aussie workers at a significant disadvantage compared to foreign backpackers.

“Not only does Labor’s proposal add more delays that could leave fruit unpicked on the trees over Christmas; and not only does Labor’s proposal leave a $260 million hole in the federal budget, but it also plans to slap a higher tax rate on Aussie workers than it does on foreign backpackers,” Minister Joyce said.

Mr Joyce called on the pact leaders to explain why foreign backpackers should pay a lower withholding tax than Aussie fruit pickers; and questioned the silence of union bosses who once-upon-a-time championed a fair go for Aussie workers.

Mr Joyce said the Coalition Government had put forward a fully costed reform policy to reduce the tax rate for working holiday makers, known as the ‘backpacker tax’ from a proposed 32.5% to 19%.

8 November 2016

Media release from Barnaby Joyce - Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Page 2

Media contact: Jake Smith 0403 466 153

The Deputy Prime Minister said the Coalition’s reform package had come after extensive consultation with industry; had been endorsed by the National Farmers Federation; was aimed at ensuring certainty for farmers so they could plan to hire backpackers over the picking season; ensured tax rates were internationally competitive; and ensured fruits and vegetables were on the table at Christmas at the most affordable prices.

“Labor in a pact with Lambie and One Nation wants to put all that at risk because it believes trying to create chaos is more important than trying to create jobs,” he said.

Mr Joyce said stalling the passage of legislation would mean backpackers would be liable for the 32.5% tax rate from 1 January 2017.

He said the 32.5% tax rate applying to non-residents had been the law since it was increased from 29% by the previous Labor Government as part of the 2012-13 Budget.

He said the Australian Tax Office had issued a statement only last week saying that it would consider most backpackers to be non-residents for tax, owing to the recent Administrative Appeals Tribunal decisions, unless the Parliament took action to change the legislation.


 The 32.5 per cent tax rate applying to non-residents is not new. It has been in law since it was increased from 29 per cent by the previous Labor Government as part of Wayne Swan’s 2012-13 Budget.

 The tax-free threshold was removed from the non-resident tax tables in 1982. Many backpackers have been incorrectly claiming to be residents for tax purposes, thereby accessing the tax free threshold available for Australian citizens. Because the tax-free threshold was increased under Labor, many backpackers have not been paying fair tax on income earned while working in this country.

 The “backpacker tax” is an issue we inherited from the previous Labor Government and has not been initiated by the Coalition Government.