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Thursday, 10 November 2016
Page: 2457


Senator LAMBIE (Tasmania) (12:09): I rise to support Labor's amendment to government business which will ensure that the government's legislation relating to backpacker legislation is dealt with as a matter of urgency by this Senate. On behalf of Tasmanian farmers and workers whose full-time jobs depend on that surge of seasonal backpacker workers I thank Labor, the Greens, One Nation and other crossbench senators who are going to support this important amendment, which will force the government's legislation to be brought into the Senate.

I would like this chamber to reflect on the reality of what we are trying to do here. The opposition and the crossbench senators have been forced to move an amendment that makes the government introduce their own legislation. What an embarrassment for this government that they will now try to prevent a debate on their own legislation. It is not just any old government legislation that is not time sensitive. This government legislation is extremely urgent. It is legislation that is highly time sensitive. It is legislation which affects the livelihoods and life savings of hundreds of Tasmanian farmers and thousands of full-time Tasmanian workers.

The Liberal-National government, by delaying the introduction of their own backpacker legislation this week, have shown not only that they have a care factor of zero for rural and regional areas and our tourism industry but also that they have betrayed the people who are supposed to be their loyal supporters. If you look at the National Party office doors in this Senate, you will see signs which say 'Nationals for regional Australia'. What a distortion of the truth. What a nasty, grubby, little porky being peddled by a group of backstabbing, gutless cowards. The leader of this useless herd of has-beens and geldings is our Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Joyce, who took ordinary Australians, especially those in Tasmania and other regional areas, for fools when he said that backpackers fruit-picking were taking Australian jobs. What a load of bloody rubbish. He knows that the livelihoods of Australian farmers and their full-time Australian workers depend on the surge in seasonal backpacker workers, and that if we do not have backpacker seasonal workers coming to Australia then millions of tonnes of ripe fruit, berries and vegetables will rot—they will absolutely rot—and farm businesses will go bankrupt and thousands of full-time Australian workers in the farming and food processing industries will have to be sacked.

If the Liberal and National parties really wanted to protect local Australian jobs they would stop blaming backpackers. The overseas visitors who are really taking Australian jobs are the people here on overseas student visas. They and their employers are rorting the system and taking away jobs from our children. They are only supposed to work 20 hours a week and they are often working three times that for employers who are rorting the system and exploiting vulnerable workers. If you want to have more jobs for our kids and for their future stop those on student visas from working here in Australia—full stop.

I want this government backpacker debate brought before this house as soon as possible, because the government's promise of lowering the tax rate to 19 per cent is not working. It has completely failed. Tasmanian farmers have told us that the government's proposed 19 per cent backpacker tax rate is not internationally competitive. Backpackers are avoiding Australia in droves because of this government's insistence on 19 per cent. Everyone agrees that a 10.5 per cent backpacker tax will make us internationally competitive again—not for this season, though. Those people over there have finished it for this season. This season is finished; it is absolutely over. They did no modelling. They have not estimated what it is going to cost this summer for our industry. You have not done any modelling—too bloody lazy—and for that our farmers are going down.

Senator Ian Macdonald: Madam President, I raise a very serious point of order. We can all say 'bloody this' or 'bloody that' in this chamber, and that is perhaps how we talk outside the chamber. But I seek your ruling on whether this senator's continual reference or use of the adjective 'bloody' is appropriate for this chamber. If the ruling is that it is appropriate for this senator then I am sure we can all indulge ourselves in that as well. But I do think the Senate has some standards that should be observed by all senators, and I ask your ruling on that.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Lambie, I do remind you to conduct yourself with decorum. Whilst this is an emotional debate and we appreciate the emotion in the room, we just need to be more nuanced with our language. Thank you, Senator Lambie.

Senator LAMBIE: I think after yesterday's win in the US, the way the political establishment operates is over. Everyone agrees that a 10.5 per cent backpacker tax will make us internationally competitive again. And it will help fix the damage caused by an incompetent, gutless, deceitful Liberal-National government in the future, who have single-handedly almost stuffed our fruit picking and horticultural industry—for this summer, certainly.