The Australian citrus industry is eagerly awaiting the outcome of the federal government’s interdepartmental review into holidaying backpacker wages, according to Tania Chapman, Citrus Australia’s chairwoman.
Chapman said there would be significant industry backlash if the government chooses to follow-through with a proposed 32.5 per cent tax on every working dollar a holidaying backpacker earns.
“Our industry relies on holidaying backpackers who enjoy a working holiday in Australia where they assist with the harvest of a wide range of horticulture crops,” Chapman said. “Backpackers contribute more than A$3.5bn to the economy each year and around 40,000 find employment on Australian farms. We need more of them, not less.”
The review process is being overseen by Australian tourism minister Richard Colbeck, assistant agriculture and water resources minister Anne Ruston and Keith Pitt, the assistant minister to senior minister Barnaby Joyce.
A proposal from the review is expected to be considered by the federal government, who will “make an announcement in due course”.
Chapman said Voice of Horticulture, which represents all horticultural industries, was lobbing for a tax rate between 17-19 per cent to put Australia on the same page as Canada and New Zealand.
“These two countries are the alternatives for our backpacker workforce and given that backpackers make on average A$15,000 during their stay in Australia, a tax rate of 32.5 per cent is a huge deterrent,” Chapman explained.