Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce in Rockhampton to announce specialised funding for research and development in the Australian beef industry. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce in Rockhampton to announce specialised funding for research and development in the Australian beef industry. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin Chris Ison ROK140416cjoyce6

Backpacker tax review on track, assures Deputy PM

DEPUTY Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has reassured industries the backpacker tax review would soon be finalised.

My Joyce this week told Radio National farmers would learn what was happening with the tax in the next month or so.

Labor's shadow minister for rural and regional Australia, Joel Fitzgibbon, slammed the proposed tax, which would see working holiday visa-holders pay a 32.5% tax rate, with no tax-free threshold.

Other workers do not start paying tax until their income exceeds $18,200.

Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek told reporters in Melbourne her party had "grave concerns about the backpacker tax”.

"We're hearing from farmers that it is dampening the number of young people who are willing to work in fruit picking, vegetable picking and so on,” Ms Plibersek said.

Member for Maranoa David Littleproud said the department was working through the submissions "as quickly as possible”, before making a submission and recommendation.

He said while employers supported some tax for those on a working holiday, it was crucial for Australia to remain competitive in that sector.

Pozieres apple grower Rosie Savio, who is also an Apple and Pear Australia Ltd director, feared the tax would mean the much-needed workers would simply stop coming to Australia to work.

Farming body Growcom's chief advocate Rachel Mackenzie said the tax was "unfair” and "unsustainable” and would have "enormous detriment to communities like Stanthorpe”.

BEST harvest labour recruitment manager Sue Frances said the Granite Belt's demand for backpacker labour sat between 6000-8000 workers each year.

A spokeswoman for Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Luke Hartsuyker said the review, which received more than 1700 submissions, was expected to be completed next month.

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