THE Australian Greens have announced they’ve done a deal with the federal government to break the backpacker tax deadlock, agreeing to a 15 per cent rate.
Australian Greens Leader Dr Richard Di Natale said today was a great day for farmers and the environment, with the deal also seeing an added $100 million going into the Landcare program.
He said common sense had prevailed with the Green’s cleaning up the “mess” that was of the government’s own making.
The Greens have also secured changes to the superannuation rate paid to farmers which would make the backpacker tax rate effectively 13pc.
Backpacker super payments of 9.5pc will drop from 95 to 65 percent, under the agreement.
Senator Di Natale said in regional communities this government was going to risk the tax rate going up to 32.5pc saying, to backpackers throughout the word, ‘don’t come to Australia; we’re closed for business’.
“In the end what we’ve adopted is an effective 13pc tax rate; when you consider the super clawback it’s the same revenue as would have been achieved with that 13pc rate.
“The 15pc rate - with that super-clawback.”
Greens Spokesperson for Agriculture and Rural Affairs Victorian Senator Janet Rice said it was a great outcome for farmers and sustainable agriculture.
She said it meant fruit would not be rotting on the vine this summer and the extra $100m for Landcare was a substantial improvement, to help farmers achieve sustainable agriculture.
Senator Di Natale said the important thing was that people, right around the country, didn’t know if their businesses were going to be viable and “that’s what we were facing”.
“We had this ridiculous spectacle brought on by the government, before an election, no consultation, blindsiding everybody including farmers saying, ‘we’re going to claw all this money back from backpackers’,” he said.
“And the agriculture community said ‘no hang on, we need these people; they are vital’.
“We then saw the government during the election campaign not have the guts to take a policy to the people, pushing it off to the neve-never, and here we are a minute to midnight with the government saying, ‘no we’re not going to accept 13pc’, and we were going to force some of these producers to the wall.
“What the Greens have achieved is a common sense victory for farmers and we’ve also got a $100m boost for the environment through Landcare funding, now that’s a great outcome.”
Senator Di Natale said the government would gain the same revenue under the Green’s proposal as they would under the 13pc proposal put forward by the Senate.
“The bottom line for us is what does this mean for people working on the land - for those communities who rely on this workforce,” he said.
“And backpackers are a critical part of the Australian workforce – I married a backpacker.
“They are an incredible part of the Australian workforce – they make a huge contribution to this nation – farmers right around the country rely on them.
“But we had this spectacle where we were going to say to these farmers, ‘no, because of bloody mindedness in this place, because of this silly standoff, that the victims of that were going to be people in regional Australia’ and we weren’t going to accept that.
“When it became clear that the government was not prepared a 13pc rate, it was time to actually demonstrate there might be a way out of this mess, today.”
Australian Greens Spokesperson for Treasury, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said the current rate the government took out of superannuation for backpackers was 38 per cent but what the Greens had achieved now, by any other means, was a 13pc tax rate.
“It’s the same amount of money in the back pocket for backpackers,” he said.
“This is exactly what the producers have been asking for.”