Relief in the south-west following backpacker tax decision

With a backpacker tax decision finally reached, cows in the south-west will be milked, says South West Coast MP.

Roma Britnell said the tax was an important issue for her electorate, adding that she backed the Coalition’s 15 per cent tax policy, which was secured and passed in the senate on Thursday. 

Despite the good news, she said the game of politics played by Labor and crossbenchers had been detrimental to farmers. 

“The dairy industry … forms the economic base of my electorate,” she said. 

Mrs Britnell said if Australian’s didn’t want to do the jobs on offer, employers needed to look to overseas labour. 

She said a 32 per cent tax rate – expected in January – would have been a “huge disincentive for foreign workers looking to travel to Australia and work”.

“I (didn’t) want to see fruit being left on trees to rot and cows unmilked,” Mrs Britnell said. 

“All that (would) do is hurt farmers backpockets and damage the economy.” 

UDV policy councillor and Koroit farmer Oonagh Kilpatrick said the final tax rate was good. 

The Irish backpacker advocate said she thought it would be a great way to keep the focus on Australia for holiday workers. 

“It will be an incentive for young Irish to consider coming here again,” Mrs Kilpatrick said.  

Despite a feeling of relief that followed the announcement, Victorian Farmers Federation horticulture vice-president Emma Germano said there were no winners.

“I think there’s a lot of damage that’s been done,” she said. “(The government) has made a mockery of our industry.”

Ms Germano said the flow-on effects from the “unnecessary” debate would last for months.

“From March this year we have said that we would be happy with a 15 to 19 per cent tax rate which would make us internationally competitive,” she said. 

“Our thinking from the beginning was ‘let them get paid well because it goes back into the economy’.”

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