Rob Bauer of Bauer's Organic Farm. The farm has launched a paddock-to-plate online shop. Photo: LucyRC Photography
Rob Bauer of Bauer's Organic Farm. The farm has launched a paddock-to-plate online shop. Photo: LucyRC Photography Contributed

Backpacker tax scrapped as changes bite on farmers

THE Federal Government has backed down on the controversial backpacker tax but the news is not necessarily good for the region's farmers.

It is a case of bad news instead of really bad news according to Lockyer Valley grower Rob Bauer who said the reduction of the proposed tax from 32.5 percent to 19% is still too much.

BACKPACKER TAX: Natsuko Onoda sorting sweet potatoes in the packing shed. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
BACKPACKER TAX: Natsuko Onoda sorting sweet potatoes in the packing shed. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail Mike Knott BUN090216BACKPACKER1

Mr Bauer from Bauer's Organic Farm is a fourth-generation grower at Mt Sylvia growing produce such as sorghum, lucerne, pumpkins, garlic and potatoes.

"Backpackers are a big thing for us in the organic industry," Mr Bauer said.

"It's a lot better than 33 per cent but I was hoping for nothing. Just leave the way it was - when something is not broke don't touch it."

Mr Bauer is just one of many farmers in the Lockyer Valley who rely on backpackers and he believes the tax, while reduced, will still affect the industry.

"I can't be joyous about the reduction of the tax. Yesterday we were paying nothing and soon we are paying 19%," Mr Bauer said.

"Imagine if the government tried to put 19% on the wage earner."

The National Farmers Federation has welcomed the decision citing it as a common sense conclusion to the ongoing issue which was first flagged in the 2015 Federal Budget.

"The nature of these types of working arrangements is that farmers need an immediate, temporary workforce and backpackers want immediate cash in their pockets to spend while travelling - so the approach makes sense," president Brent Finlay said.

From January 1 next year backpackers will be taxed 19% from the first dollar earned.

Instead the $500 million in lost revenue will be made up by an increase on the passenger tax paid by departing travellers which will be raised from $55 to $60 from July 1 next year.

The government will now keep 95 per cent of backpackers super contributions when they leave the country.

The tourism sector will also get a $10 million boost to market jobs to backpackers.

RELATED: Region's farmers want backpacker tax scrapped

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said the decision would bring money back into regional towns and denied it was a 'back flip".

"Clearly this shows we have resolved the issue and we can move on," he said.

"It's now out of the way. We've fixed it."

Shadow Agriculture Minister Dale Last also offered comment, stating the Queensland LNP Opposition welcomed the Federal Government's "common sense decision" to listen to community concerns over the backpacker tax.

"The new rate announced by the Federal Government is welcome recognition of the important role backpackers play in Queensland's tourism and agriculture sectors," he said.

"The LNP will always support the interests of our regional friends. I have personally stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our farmers on this issue from the beginning."



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