Member for O’Connor, Rick Wilson MP, has welcomed today’s announcement on the Working Holiday Maker visa review, which has seen the Government establish a timeline for the inquiry and appoint a third party to oversee public consultation.
The Turnbull Government has formally begun the review with Assistant Minister Luke Hartsuyker, with responsibility for agricultural workforce matters, chosen to lead the initiative.
Members of the public can make submissions to the Government until Friday, September 2.
The review’s outcomes will take the form of a submission to Cabinet for consideration in advance of any changes coming into effect from 1 January 2017.
Mr Wilson said the inquiry was essential to ensuring the Government’s policy settings continued to meet growing demand for flexible labour, particularly in regional Australia.
“Both farmers and tourism operators have expressed strong opinions about the supply and taxation of working holiday visa holders,” he said.
“The proper application of the long-established tax rate of 32.5 per cent for non-residents has been raised as a potential disincentive for backpackers to take on roles that are not being met by Australian workers.
“The law currently considers transient working holiday makers as non-residents for taxation purposes, making them liable for the higher rate of tax from their first dollar earned.
“In my opinion this is too high a rate of taxation, but backpackers do use tax-payer funded services while in Australia, and it is only fair that they make some contribution to the system.
“In 2014-15, there were 226,812 visas granted under our working holiday maker programmes. I believe the majority of those people will want to come to Australia regardless of taxation, for the unique experiences they will have while visiting, and seeing the diverse beauty of the nation.”
Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu have been commissioned to lead the public engagement process to help fully capture the views of both agriculture and tourism sectors.
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
Public submissions must be made by Friday, 2 September 2016; for more information or to make a submission, visit agriculture.gov.au/workingholidaymaker.