North Queensland farmers no longer have to worry about who will pick their produce following the passage of Government reforms to tax legislation relating to foreign casual workers.
Northern-based Government Senator Ian Macdonald said the Government had been trying to correct a tax ruling made in relation to Wayne Swann’s legislation in 2013 which increased the tax rate to 32%.
“Because of the Tax Office ruling recently, it was likely that foreign backpackers would have been charged 32% from the first dollar earned,” Senator Macdonald said.
“We tried to correct that by reducing the rate to 19% to ensure a supply of labour for our farmers, for work that unemployed Australians seemed unable or unwilling to do.”
At 19%, Australia would have been competitive against New Zealand and Canada, but the Senate wouldn’t agree to that, Senator Macdonald.
“Instead, a couple of crossbench Senators reneged on their commitment to a compromise of 15% and supported Labor’s push for 10.5%.
“At 10.5%, this would put foreign workers in a far better position than Australian workers and Pacific Island workers who help in Australia.
“On the final day of sitting and against opposition from Labor, Senator Lambie and Senator Culleton, the Government was able to legislate the compromised position of 15% which will ensure that farmers get the workers who can harvest their crops.
“Northern horticulturalists will have a much happier Christmas knowing that their supply of Labor for next year’s harvest is assured.”