15 per cent backpackers tax compromise from government

The long backpacker tax debate could soon come to an end with the government compromising on a 15 per cent rate, Treasurer Scott Morrison announced on Monday. 

The government had already agreed on a compromise on the 32.5 per cent rate which was initially proposed. 

But Labor came out shortly after to announce that it would not support the 15 per cent compromise, sticking with a 10.5 per cent rate. 

Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie successfully passed a 10.5 per cent rate through the Senate last week, but this was quickly rejected by the lower house.

After about 18 months of waiting, Primary Employers Tasmania chief executive Keith Rice said it was good to finally be able to offer some certainty to anxious farmers. 

The organisation has been involved in the debate over the tax from the beginning and Mr Rice said it was a relief the see the compromise.

“For the fruit growers, the vegetable growers and the tourism industry employers, it will bring some finality to it,” he said.

“It is a fair and equitable rate to settle on.

“I believe that we will be able to have adequate labour – I don’t know if we’ll be swamped with labour but it will hopefully be there now and word will start to spread.” 

Senator Lambie also welcomed the compromise but called the ongoing debate a “harmful rural crisis”. 

“While I acknowledge that many desperate farmers will welcome a reduction of 4 per cent to 15 per cent, they still don’t have any guarantee that the damage to Australia’s international reputation will be repaired,” she said. 

“At 15 per cent Tasmanian farmers still don’t have a guarantee that the international workers will come, the fruit will be picked and all those full time Australian jobs will be protected.

“Our farmers and workers would have had that guarantee if the rate had remained at 0 per cent or even 10.5 per cent. I’m very disappointed that our farming families can’t be given that guarantee with this new deal.” 

Tasmanian Liberal Senator Jonathon Duniam said there were still concerns around superannuation rates. 

“The announcement of a 15 per cent tax rate will again provide the certainty and international competitiveness that these important industries are after,” Senator Duniam said. 

“I will continue to work with [industry groups] on remaining concerns around the superannuation tax component to ensure that they benefit from any policies moving forward.” 

Tasmanian Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff welcomed the compromise. 

“We have consistently argued that the Tasmanian horticultural and tourism industries need certainty and a tax rate that keeps our industries competitive with other countries,” Mr Rockliff said. 

“The 15 per cent tax rate is equivalent to the current seasonal tax rate paid by participants of the Seasonal Worker Programme.”