Senate debates

Wednesday, 23 November 2016


Income Tax Rates Amendment (Working Holiday Maker Reform) Bill 2016, Treasury Laws Amendment (Working Holiday Maker Reform) Bill 2016, Superannuation (Departing Australia Superannuation Payments Tax) Amendment Bill 2016, Passenger Movement Charge Amendment Bill 2016; Second Reading

6:52 pm

Photo of Christopher BackChristopher Back (WA, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

They live in Kellerberrin. But Senator Rice is listening avidly, and just in case she is not, I know that Senators McKim and Whish-Wilson are going to rush back so that Senator Rice is fully informed in her mistaken view that people cannot leave cities and cannot leave regional towns to work.

My second example comes from the Australian Hotels Association. I know that you, Madam Acting Deputy President Reynolds, as well as the minister sitting there, Senator Nash, and Senator Fawcett move through rural Australia and do not hear Australian accents. We recall, in a formal meeting, where Senator Smith I think was present, that the CEO of the Australian Hotels Association in WA, responding to the question of why there were so many non-Australian accents in hotels and hospitality around WA, said, 'We cannot get young Australians to work in our hotels.' Was this at Kununoppin? Was this at Wubin? No, no, no: this was Steve's hotel, it was the Nedlands hotel, it was the students' watering hole on the Swan River, it was the Ocean Beach hotel, one that I believe Senator Whish-Wilson—legally or illegally—may have frequented as a young man. These are the hotels that we cannot get young Australians to go and work in. Is it because they cannot pay their rent? Is it because they are in such enormous need? Of course not. The simple fact of the matter is that they do not want the work.

So yes, we have engaged actively with agriculturalists, with horticulturalists. The member for Forrest, Ms Marino, and the member for O'Connor, Mr Wilson, and I were in Manjimup in the winter for a forum with 80 or 90 agriculturalists, horticulturalists and small businessmen. Just so that people understand the scale of this operation, somebody said, 'I'm going to ask who has had more than 100 backpackers on their farm tonight', and there were five—in May, in Manjimup in the winter; five had more than 100 backpackers on their farm that night.

We know the scale of the problem. The shire president of Manjimup—himself hopefully to become a wonderful contributor through the upper house of the state parliament after March—said that $20 million worth of avocados were harvested last summer in the Manjimup area and not one was picked by an Australian; they were all backpackers. We all know the size and scale of this issue. But we also know that 19 per cent is fair; 19 per cent is slightly better in terms of take-home pay for a backpacker coming to Australia than for one going to New Zealand or Canada. And superannuation is irrelevant, because it is not offered to backpackers from other countries. The final point I want to make is that, when they have been canvassed, farmers, horticulturalists, fishermen and backpackers all believe that 19 per cent is appropriate.

In concluding, I want to catch up with Senator Watt, because I listened to Senator Watt this afternoon telling us how he had been to Rockhampton, bucketing the local member, the wonderful member for Capricornia. One would not have thought that only recently in the federal election she subjected herself to the will of the people of Capricornia and got an increased margin. You would not have thought that from listening to Senator Watt's commentary this afternoon. I just want to tell you about when I visited the seat of Murray with Dr Sharman Stone. It was in relation to abattoirs. Senator Watt was talking about abattoirs today, and how Australians could not get jobs in the abattoirs. Dr Stone took me to an abattoir just outside Shepparton. The manager of that abattoir was telling us he had an urgent need to increase the number of shifts in the meatworks. Because of the live export ban, cattle were coming south and they needed to process more. He had no fewer than 50 permanent jobs available for young people in what is the highest youth unemployment area of Victoria—permanent jobs, no skills required. They would be trained according to Australian certificates of competence and have permanent employment. But he got no Australians successfully applying. Do you know why? Because they needed to be drug free, and not one of the Australians could meet that criterion.

That is where I leave my contribution. Please support the legislation as presented by Senator Cormann.


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