Thursday, 1 December 2016
Income Tax Rates Amendment (Working Holiday Maker Reform) Bill 2016 (No. 2); In Committee
I genuinely welcome the news that the Greens have negotiated a deal that delivers an effective backpacker tax rate of 13 per cent, and I only pray it works because our Tasmanian farmers should never have been put through the bureaucratic and political hell for the last 18 months that they have been put through. The government's inaction, arrogance and incompetence have caused terrible harm to many Tasmanian, and Australian, farming families. Our farmers deserve a fair share of the extra $100 million announced in the National, Liberal and Greens deal for Landcare, and I am calling for the details of this deal and the total amount to be allocated to Tasmania to be released to our farmers as soon as possible.
I hope that a backpacker deal which has a headline rate of 15 per cent but incorporates superannuation concessions—I sincerely thank Senator Whish-Wilson; you cannot take it away from him because he did a great job with this—that lower the rate to an effective 13 per cent is recognised internationally as competitive. With New Zealand's backpacker rate set at a headline rate of 10.5 per cent and with New Zealand poaching a lot of Australia-bound backpackers, I still have concerns for the long-term viability and the competitiveness of this deal. I will go into the short-term damage that has been done shortly.
I hope that once this matter is dealt with today in parliament a lasting and viable solution is put in place. It would be an absolute disaster if we had to revisit the backpacker crisis in another 12 months, although I have a feeling that after this season we will be visiting it a lot quicker. I will continue to listen closely to Tasmanian farmers and vote according to their best interests. Unfortunately this crisis has shown that mainland dominated farming organisations like the National Farmers Federation—shame on them, they are an absolute disgrace and cannot be trusted to represent Tasmanian farmers in Canberra or any other farmer in this nation—have become the lap-dogs of the National-Liberal parties rather than being watchdogs for rural and regional Australia.
I have a couple of questions for you, and I want to talk about the deal that you have done with the NXT over the dole payments—