Unemployed people don’t have to work to collect entitlements

11 January 2016: Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter has called on the Federal Government to reverse its decision to remove a tax-free threshold for working holiday makers, saying that the change would hurt both the fruit and vegetable and tourism industries which are heavily reliant on backpacker labour and trade.

"The backpacker industry brings a hell of a lot of glamorous looking young people who enjoy our beaches, waterfalls and jungles, our crocodiles and spear throwers, our great art including our unique first Australian art, as well as some of the most exciting places and experiences on earth.

“Taxing them at higher rates, on top of the falling Australian dollar, means less real wages for them.

“It creates a huge disincentive to come and work on our farms, where their employment is desperately needed.

“We have previously requested the Government to reduce the requirements for backpackers’ superannuation to remove some small burden from our farmers.

“And I remain confident that not a single Australian resident job will be lost as a result of any of these measures.

“But without more backpackers, more jobs will be lost in the tourism industry, particularly in regional tourism in Far North Queensland.”

Mr Katter also said that the privatisation of the welfare job allocation system had had the effect that people claiming their full welfare benefits have no real requirement to take a job, meaning a shortage in people working on fruit and vegetable farms in his North Queensland electorate.

“The loss of the backpackers would spell disaster for fruit and vegetable growers, particularly in industries like bananas, mangos and blueberries.

“Section 457 visa workers are of very limited value to the local economy but the loss of the backpacker s417 visa worker would be a very serious blow to the whole fruit and vegetable industry, worth approximately $400 million a year.

“But it’s an even more serious blow to the tourism industry – the loss of these handsome young people will take a lot of the glamour out of tourism in North Queensland and therefore a lot of the tourism out of North Queensland," Mr Katter said.