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Thousands of full time Tasmanian jobs in horticulture depend on the surge of backpacker labour during the summer harvest season.

And by placing a new tax on backpacker fruit and berry pickers, the Federal Government has not only placed those full-time local jobs in jeopardy – but also the livelihoods of hundreds of Tasmanian farming families.

There is still a grave danger that fruit will rot on the ground and farmers will go broke, as backpackers take working holidays in countries that don’t charge as much in tax as Australia now intends to.

When it comes to competing for vital backpacker farm labour and tourists – New Zealand is one of our biggest and most aggressive competitors. 

So it makes sense for our Government to at least reduce our backpacker tax rate to one that’s competitive with NZ  – at 10.5%. 

I, and many Tasmanian farmers would like the backpacker rate to remain unchanged at 0% – however we’re happy to meet the Government and the Labor Opposition halfway at $10.5%. 

By fixing the rate at 10.5% the government’s $10 million tourism/backpacker advertising campaign is guaranteed to work – and the unnecessary damage that the Liberal Government caused to our farming and tourism sectors will be more quickly repaired.

I understand that our farmers want the Government backpacker legislation – to pass quickly through the Senate – but I will introduce amendments to the Government’s legislation in the Senate, which reduces the rate of the Government’s proposed tax from 19% to 10.5%.

I hope that all Crossbench, Labor, and Green Senators will agree with my proposal and also agree that we should remain competitive with NZ. 

Should the Senate choose to amend and decrease the Government’s backpacker rate from 19% to 10.5%  – I hope that the Government respects the Senate’s decision – and votes for their own legislation which may be amended, to pass the Parliament.