Federal Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson MP says the decision to delay the “Backpacker Tax” and review working holiday visa classes is an excellent result for regional WA.
Mr Wilson, who has been campaigning for changes to the proposed 32.5 per cent tax on working holiday makers since it was announced, applauded the Government’s decision to postpone its introduction until January 2017.
“I made it clear from the outset that this tax would cause significant pain in my electorate by making it difficult for farmers, horticulturalists and tourism operators to find workers,” he said.
“Along with some of my Liberal party colleagues from other parts of rural Australia, I put my case to the Treasurer and to his credit, he has acknowledged the unintended consequences and launched this review.
“We certainly need a new policy in relation to working tourists because currently they have the freedom to earn $18,000, receive superannuation contributions and use taxpayer services without paying a single cent in tax on their wages – I don’t think anyone believes that is fair.
“But there is no one-size-fits-all approach and what the proposed policy failed to recognise was that tourists provide a vital source of labour in rural areas where Australian citizens are not prepared to relocate for seasonal work.
“I’m confident this review will make it absolutely clear that the Government needs to recognise the role backpackers have in regional Australia.”
The inter-departmental review will explore the broad range of issues affecting the supply of 417 and 462 Visa labour, with a specific reference to the agriculture and tourism sectors.
The review will report to the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, by mid October 2016.
Minister Joyce, together with relevant portfolio ministers, will then bring a joint submission to Cabinet with recommendations to address 417 and 462 Visa labour issues.
Mr Wilson said the review’s terms of reference, which lists Australia’s competitive position in attracting seasonal and temporary foreign labour as one of the key issues to be addressed, indicate the Government is focusing on the right areas.
Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer, who announced the review today, acknowledged the strong advocacy of Mr Wilson in shaping the Government’s decision.
“Rick Wilson has been a strong advocate for a considered comprehensive review of the supply and taxation arrangements of seasonal holiday workers,” she said.
Terms of reference:
- Australia’s competitive position in attracting seasonal and temporary foreign labour, including:
- comparative wages, entitlements and conditions;
- comparative taxation on income earned;
- comparative superannuation or equivalent entitlements;
- promotional programmes and schemes to assist workers while in the country;
- costs and barriers to entry;
- Regulatory imposts on employers;
- Exploitation of and protections for vulnerable workers, including evaluation of illegal labour hire practices and non-compliance with laws and regulations;
- Capacity to match employers with available workers, including regulatory arrangements in relation to the role of labour hire companies;
- Changes to the use of volunteer or unpaid labour (for instance Willing Workers on Organic Farms, or ‘Woofers’);
- Australia’s exposure to changes in exchange rates, economic growth and employment rates in source nations which may affect Australia attracting seasonal and temporary labour;
- Short-term and long-term agricultural and tourism labour needs;
- Policies to attract unemployed Australians, including young Australians, into work in agriculture and tourism;
- Opportunities to expand supply of seasonal and temporary foreign workers for the agricultural sector; and
- Consistent tax treatment between different classes of temporary work Visa holders.