A TAX hike on foreign workers may have an effect on the state’s peak berry-picking seasons if it goes ahead in the next financial year.
Some working holiday-makers may choose to go berry-picking around New Zealand and skip Tasmania and Australia altogether, according to Christmas Hills Tasmanian Berries manager Andrew Terry.
With the federal government’s proposed tax hike expected to take effect on July 1 the effects of the decision, announced in the last budget, will not be seen until next season, however Mr Terry said he had already heard some of his regular workers say they are thinking of skipping across the ditch.
‘‘I have heard some of them saying, just through conversations that we’ve had, that some of them are thinking about New Zealand,’’ Mr Terry said.
‘‘It’s a fair chunk of their money that will be taxed.’’
At present, working holiday visa holders are eligible for the same tax-free threshold as Australian workers, and they can earn up to $18,200 without paying tax.
But that is set to change on July 1 when they will be taxed from the first dollar they earn.
Mr Terry said while the berry season was yet to hit its peak he said the foreign working holiday workers did make up a fair percentage of their seasonal workforce.
He said berry season would hit its peak in about five weeks’ time and said while at the moment he wasn’t looking for workers it may be a different story next year.
New figures released from AUSVEG on Thursday suggest there is already a decline in the number of workers coming to the country on the 417 working visa, which could lead to a critical labour shortage in peak times.
According to new figures, quoted by AUSVEG, the number of workers coming to the country has dropped repeatedly over the last two years.
There were 34,000 less visas granted in 2014-15 than in 2012-13.
Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association vegetable council chairman Nathan Richardson said he didn’t believe that it would come to a critical labour shortage and said the decline in visas could lead to possibilities for local workers.
‘‘The positive side there could be good job opportunities for people throughout Tasmania,’’ he said.
‘‘These people [working visa workers] are travelling around world to get job, there may be [local] people who only live down the road from these places.’’