The Tourism Industry Division of the NSW Business Chamber, the state’s peak business organisation, says the Federal Government’s decision to review its proposed ‘backpacker tax’ is a welcome reprieve for Australian tourism businesses who already face fierce competition in attracting working holiday makers.
“We are very pleased that Tourism Minister Richard Colbeck has acknowledged the very legitimate concerns raised by the Australian tourism and agriculture sectors and committed the Federal Government to a cross-departmental review of the proposed ‘backpacker tax’,” said Dean Gorddard, Executive Manager of the Tourism Industry Division of the NSW Business Chamber.
“As a representative of some of New South Wales’ leading tourism operators, the NSW Business Chamber’s Tourism Industry Division has made representations to the Federal Government on the negative impact of its proposed ‘backpacker tax’.
“The ‘backpacker tax’ would have put Australia at a serious competitive disadvantage in attracting working holiday makers, who spend on average $8500 while in the country – a significant amount of which goes directly into regional and rural areas.
“With New Zealand, Canada and South Africa offering similar tax arrangements to Australia’s current scheme, local tourism operators already face fierce competition in attracting holiday makers looking to work in Australia. Currently, the cost of an Australian working holiday visa is already $290 more expensive than the equivalent visa Canada.
“Changing the tax treatment of temporary working holiday makers would impact significantly on the state’s tourism and hospitality operators, which rely heavily on this source of casual labour.
“With the number of working holiday makers already down more than 5 per cent in the past year, further disincentives would mean that these companies would struggle to fill jobs that most Australians are reluctant to take, such as fruit picking and room cleaning.
“We look forward to hearing more details around the timeline of the review and the opportunities for industry to provide comment. The Federal Government has taken a significant step in going back to the drawing board, and we will certainly be focused on ensuring that the competiveness of Australian tourism is front and centre in any forthcoming proposal,” Mr Gorddard said.