Backpacker tax passes through Parliament at 15 per cent

A 15 per cent backpacker tax rate passed through the Senate on Thursday night, bringing the long parliamentary debate to an end.

Earlier in the day, the Greens announced it had struck a deal with the government to see a tax rate of 15 per cent and backpacker superannuation dropped from 95 per cent to 65 per cent.

The party also secured $100 million in funding for Landcare through the deal. 

Tasmanian Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said the backpacker superannuation had been an “elephant in the room” throughout the debate.

“What we’ve achieved here is by other means, a 13 per cent tax rate – it’s revenue neutral to 13 per cent,” Senator Whish-Wilson said.

“This is exactly what the producers have been asking for.” 

A vote of 43 to 19 in the Senate brought to an end to months of uncertainty.

Labor revealed earlier in the day that it would support a 13 per cent tax, but the Liberal party said it would stick to supporting the 15 per cent compromise. 

Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie said she welcomed the deal but harm had already been done to Tasmanian farmers.

“Our farmers deserve a fair share of the extra $100 million,” Senator Lambie said. 

Tasmanian Liberal Senator Jonathon Duniam said the deal with the Greens was good news for farmers. 

“This is welcome news and will provide the certainty the vital horticulture and tourism sectors were after,” Senator Duniam said. 

It was 18 months ago that the 32.5 per cent backpacker tax was first introduced.

The government then reduced it to 19 per cent and would later go on to compromise on a 15 per cent rate for foreign workers. 

Last month, Senator Lambie introduced an amendment to see the rate dropped to 10.5 per cent, which was supported in the Senate. 

But just a few hours after it was passed by the Senate last month, it was knocked back in the House of Representatives and debate continued, leaving farmers across the nation left waiting for a result.

Question time in the House of Representatives on Thursday heated up as MPs had a fiery discussion over the rate of the tax and the length of time it had taken to debate it. 

With Thursday marking the last sitting day of Parliament for the year, it was a busy day in both of the houses. 

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop