Tasmanian backpackers still flock to fruit pick

WORK:Backpackers Gabi Cerenzia from England and Cecilie Stamenov of Denmark are during the berry picking season at Burlington Berries, Cressy. Picture: Phillip Biggs.
WORK:Backpackers Gabi Cerenzia from England and Cecilie Stamenov of Denmark are during the berry picking season at Burlington Berries, Cressy. Picture: Phillip Biggs.

A year on from the federal government's backpacker tax ruling, it appears fears of worker uncertainty have not come to fruition. 

On December 2 last year, the government secured a 15 per cent backpacker tax rate for all working holiday visa holders starting from January 1.

The ruling came after months of debate and concerns that higher tax rates would discourage workers from taking agriculture positions in regional areas. 

With the berry picking season in Tasmania well underway, the outlook of industry professionals remains positive. 

Fruit Growers Tasmania business development manager Phil Pyke said it doesn't appear the backpacker tax has had any affect on the number of international workers applying for seasonal jobs. 

"There is still plenty of demand there," Mr Pyke said. 

"As the operator of Tasmanian Agricultural Jobs website we can see that there is still quite a considerable amount of interest which is a good thing.

"We will always have these traditional pressure points. 

"Competition between different industries, there is nothing new about that."

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In December last year, Fruit Growers Tasmania launched the Tasmanian Agricultural Jobs website to help manage people seeking jobs in the state. 

Burlington Berries manager Kate Sutherland said the berry industry is very dependant on backpackers as seasonal workers. 

"At this stage we haven’t noticed a difference caused by the backpacker tax," she said.  

"The majority of backpackers are here to enjoy Australia and they work so they can continue their holiday and see all the sites.  

"I think it would be better for them to pay less tax but I think they are philosophical about the situation and it isn’t enough of a deterrent not to come."