VICTORIAN Senator Derryn Hinch faced media today, to answer questions about his shock support for a 13 per cent rate, shared with other crossbench Senators Jaqui Lambie and One Nation’s Rod Culleton.
Senator Hinch startled the federal government yesterday when he voted with Labor and the Greens and other crossbenchers to block an anticipated 15pc tax rate compromise from passing parliament, sending shockwaves throughout the farming sector.
He voted with Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie and WA One Nation Senator Rod Culleton to support a 10.5pc rate sparking anger from farmers that had asked the matter to be resolved, following a year of intense lobbying to avoid a 32.5pc rate.
Today, Senator Hinch said he wanted to “dispel one myth that’s being on around here about why I reneged on the government”.
“I got into the chamber yesterday morning and realised that the 15pc could not pass, even with my vote because the 10.5ers, as I call them, they had Lambie, Culleton and to my surprise they had (NSW Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm),” he said.
“So suddenly my vote for the government wouldn't happen.
“All I want to do is to get a deal done, at some figure.
“I didn't care if it was 10 or if it was 15.
“I originally voted for the 19, and at The Lodge on the Sunday night I said to the Treasurer, ‘Hey, I think you may have to come down to 15 and I can go with that’ and he said, ‘No, it's not possible - we can’t do that’.
“And while I'm giving a press conference on Monday saying I could go down to 15, he is giving a press conference saying that they had, so the 15 figure doesn’t fuss me.
“With Senator Culleton and now Senator Lambie - she he has come up heaps - we've come up 2.5 points - why can't the government come down 2 points?”
Senator Hinch said the PM had asked, during talks after yesterday’s shock vote, if there was any negotiation on 15pc and told him, ‘No .13pc is it’.
He said he’d also put a proposition to the Treasurer last night to postpone the tax increase until August and then “come in with your gun's blazing and try it again”.
“That way this season's crop all gets picked and we all go home and have a good Christmas,” he said.
“Last night the Treasurer told me that was not on so we’ll just keep putting things on the table if that’s not on.”
Senator Hinch said with the “concurrence” of farmers, the government had happily postponed the tax increase for some months, at the federal election, and there was “no reason why they could not postpone it again”.
“We shook hands at the end of it and I wished him a merry Christmas,” he said.
Asked if all members of parliament would have rotten fruit on their hands, if the backpacker tax didn’t pass this week, forcing the rate to hit 32.5pc on January 1, he said, “Well, if that’s the thing, so be it”.
Senator Hinch the 13pc would not pass through parliament as the government and PM were, “very firm this morning; that’s the way it is”.
The government reached a deal late today, with the Greens, to pass the backpacker tax at 15pc with an added $100m for Landcare funding and changes to superannuation payments, which they say equates to an effective 13pc rate.