The Murray-Riverina NSW Business Chamber says the Federal Government’s decision to delay the introduction of the ‘Backpacker tax’ until at least 1 January 2017 is good news for the region’s primary producers, but warns that continued uncertainty around working holiday visas is already negatively impacting business in the agriculture sector.

“Businesses in the agriculture, tourism and hospitality sectors will welcome the six-month delay in the introduction of the ‘backpacker tax’, but we urgently need greater clarity on how a re-elected Turnbull Government will address this issue in the long-term,” said NSW Business Chamber Murray-Riverina Regional Manager, Ben Foley.
“Fobbing the decision off until after the election does not provide any assurances whatsoever and coincidentally, the 1 January 2017 will be smack bang in the middle of the season here in the region when backpackers are relied upon heavily.
“Two months ago the Tourism Minister committed the Federal Government to a cross-departmental review of its ‘backpacker tax’, originally flagged in the 2015-16 Budget, but we will now need to wait until mid-October for further details.
“Unfortunately, this uncertainty around working visa requirements is already having a negative impact, with some local businesses reporting 50 per cent drops in job applications.
“Local businesses already face fierce competition in attracting holiday makers looking to work in Australia, with New Zealand, Canada and South Africa offering similar tax arrangements to Australia’s current scheme. The lack of clarity on this issue may have already impacted on the decisions of working holiday makers on whether to work here or New Zealand.
“This tax puts local business at a serious competitive disadvantage in attracting working holiday makers, and it would be prudent for the Government to simply abolish it and do so as quickly as possible,” Mr Foley said.  
Media Contact: Ben Foley 0418 211 126