The Coalition Government yesterday announced the commencement of a review and public consultation, to be led by Assistant Minister Luke Hartsuyker, on the broad range of issues affecting the supply and remuneration conditions for work undertaken by Working Holiday Maker visa holders.
Northern-based LNP senator Ian Macdonald has welcomed the review and said it is a positive first step towards matching government policy settings to the seasonal labour needs of businesses in Northern Australia.
“This issue was raised with me many times and in many places during the recent election campaign.
“Tourism operators in both tropical and central Queensland have been heavily impacted by changes to the tax-free-threshold arrangements for holders of a Working Holiday Maker visa.
“And agricultural producers from the Atherton tablelands, the Cassowary Coast and the Burdekin Delta have all told me that their ability to source a seasonal workforce– in many cases the backbone of the labour-force – has been reduced to almost nil.”
Senator Macdonald said before the election that the tax-free threshold should be restored for this visa class or some other appropriate arrangement made, and predicted that the removal of the threshold in its current form would not pass the party room.
“I am pleased that the government has convened this review in recognition that the 200,000 plus working holiday makers who come here each year and are a vital source of labour across the nation.”
The review will address the government’s terms of reference, which are focused around four key themes: Australia’s international competitiveness for backpackers; seasonal and temporary jobs and projected growth in agriculture and tourism; support for small businesses around engaging seasonal labour; and, protections for vulnerable workers.
The review’s outcomes will take the form of a government announcement in advance of any changes coming into effect from 1 January 2017.
“This review will hopefully provide some reassurance to tourism operators and primary producers – critical industries to national economic prosperity - that the Government supports them.”
Public submissions must be made by Friday, 2 September 2016; for more information or to make a submission, visit: agriculture.gov.au/workingholidaymaker.