Katter expresses cynicism at reported delay to introduction of backpacker tax
17 May 2016: KAP Federal Member for Kennedy, Bob Katter has today expressed “great cynicism of this decision on the eve of an election” in response to the Federal Government’s reported delay to the introduction of the backpacker tax.
The Government announced in the 2015 budget that it would remove the tax free threshold for backpackers and tax them at 32.5 per cent from the first dollar earned from 1st July this year.
“Backpackers leave Australia with less money than they came here with. They are here to have fun and they are big spenders.
“Now the Government is planning to take the money off the backpackers and off North Queensland, so that it can be spent by the Government in Canberra. From my experience this money does not then get spent back in North Queensland.”
“Under the most intense pressure the Government has stayed resolute in their mind-numbing stupidity on the taxing of backpackers,” Mr Katter said.
The planned backpacker tax is already reported to have had a major impact on backpackers travelling to Australia, with many instead choosing to travel to New Zealand or Canada. The impact of the planned changes has already been felt on backpacker accommodation providers and fruit and vegetable growers.
“The loss of the backpackers would spell disaster for fruit and vegetable growers, particularly in industries like bananas, mangos, paw paws, blueberries and coffee.
“It must be remembered that the backpackers are the underpinning of the tourism industry in Far North Queensland. Take the backpackers away and you will take away a quarter of Far North Queensland’s tourism industry and maybe much more,” Mr Katter said.
Mr Katter has repeatedly urged the Treasurer to reduce the superannuation requirements imposed on employers of backpackers, many of which never claim the superannuation and put another cost impost on the farmer.
“What I said to Treasurer Morrison and to Treasury officials I spoke to is ‘what conceivable benefit is there for anyone forcing them to pay superannuation for backpackers, when maybe half of them never even bother to claim it?
Mr Katter’s electorate of Kennedy includes extensive fruit and vegetable farming which is heavily dependent on backpacker labour to fill seasonal labour demands. Mr Katter believes this is not a threat to Australian resident jobs, but it does threaten the North’s tourism industry.
“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.”